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Jan 12, 2017

1.12: D&S podcast; media, tech, politics; AI


updates and ideas from the D&S community and beyond

Around the Institute

Listen! Data & Society podcast
Dear readers, many of you have asked for a podcast. We heard you! We’re now publishing audio of our talks, along with interviews, presentations, and other bits, at listen.datasociety.net. We’ve started with a batch of D&S staff favorites and will be rolling out a lot more going forward. (Episodes are also available on iTunes and Google Play.)

Encore: Media, Politics, Technology
ICYMI, last week we released six new essays on different facets of the ongoing public conversation around “fake news,” propaganda, hate speech, and the US election:

  1. Hacking the Attention Economy: danah boyd describes some of the tactics and strategies that people have taken to manipulate old and new media for fun, profit, and ideology. This essay explores decentralized coordination efforts, contemporary information campaigns, and cultural logics behind gaming the system.
  2. What’s Propaganda Got To Do With It?: Caroline Jack brings historical context to the use of the term “propaganda,” arguing that the resurgence of this label amid social anxieties over the new media landscape is reflective of deeper cultural and ideological divides.
  3. Did Media Literacy Backfire? is danah boyd’s examination of how media literacy education efforts to encourage the public to be critical consumers of information may have contributed to widespread distrust in information intermediaries, complicating efforts to understand what is real and what is not.
  4. Are There Limits to Online Free Speech? Alice Marwick explores how the tech industry’s obsession with free speech has been repurposed (and newly politicized) by networks whose actions are often seen as supporting of hate speech and harassment.
  5. Why America is Self-Segregating is danah boyd’s attempt to lay out some of the structural shifts that have taken place in the United States in the last twenty years that have magnified polarization and resulted in new types of de-diversification.
  6. How do you deal with a problem like “fake news?” Robyn Caplan looks directly at the challenges that companies face when they seek to address the inaccurate and often problematic content that is spread widely on social media sites.

Big news: Berkman Klein Center and MIT Media Lab to Collaborate on the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence
This week, several foundations and funders (Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Hewlett Foundation, and more) announced the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, which will support interdisciplinary research to ensure that AI develops in a way that is ethical, accountable, and advances the public interest. The Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab will act as anchor academic institutions for this fund. More info:

Around the Around

Facebook, Nodding to Its Role in Media, Starts a Journalism Project
“In an interview about the Facebook Journalism Project, Fidji Simo, a director of product at the company, said: ‘We’ve heard loud and clear over the last year that there are questions about our role in this ecosystem. It has added an extra motivation for us to be involved even earlier on.'” —Mike Isaac