Years ago I ran across a great term: ego-casting. It describes our tendency to only seek out and consume things that we agree with that which makes us feel included and comfortable. The result is that we created personal bubbles that protect us from anything disagreeable. Social scientists call this confirmation bias.
While it’s great to have algorithms that recommend media that we might like, this isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes we need repeated unintentional exposure to things that we don’t like before the penny drops and you begin to really understand what’s going on.
Take modern jazz, for example. No one likes it at first listen. It’s too complex, too rich in nuances, for the average person to get it right away. Same thing for opera or classical music. I’m not saying you need to be forced to listen to this music, but it’s very helpful if someone takes you by the hand to explain what’s going on. Otherwise, it’s just too much trouble.
The same goes for news. No matter on which part of the political spectrum you live, it’s natural to only read/watch/consume the information that reinforces your worldview. Some will only watch Fox News and feel that MSNBC features nothing but insane liberals. And vice-versa.
That’s not good. As one poly sci professor once told me “There’s right, there’s left and somewhere in between is the truth.”
This brings me to the new Google News feature. From TheNextWeb:
The app, which serves as a replacement for the seemingly-abandoned Google Play Newsstand on iOS devices, is excellent. It leans heavily on Google’s superb AI to surface stories you’re most likely to care about, whether in your backyard or across the globe.
But it’s not the AI that I find most compelling. Instead, it’s perhaps the app’s one feature that takes an old school approach by dropping the algorithms altogether.
It’s called “Full Coverage.”
Full Coverage drops the algorithmic sorting and opens your mind to opposing viewpoints. With the click of a button, Google displays dozens of competing takes, voices, and sources for the same story. For Google, it’s just doing what it does best: indexing everything. But whether intentional or not, Full Coverage is the antithesis to the way most of us consume news.
I like it. Keep reading.