Thursday, March 26, 2009

Digital Walls

I originally wrote this entry on September 14, 2004, and published it on

Dan Gilmore points to Steve McGookin's article "Bloggers and Blinders" and notes McGookin's view on the echo-chamber effect:

Our tendency to visit the sites we agree with, rather than seeking out information and opinion that might change our outlook.

That's quite common. People stick to what they know. For example, how many people, even in the Bay Area, struggle to read IRIB.IR or IRNA.IR. Our minds have been filled with suspicions that make these foreign news sources lose any value that they may actually have.

People are generally more comfortable with what's more familiar to them, and the concept of some abstract, scientific and provable Truth gives them comfort as long as it is the Truth that is most comfortable. In contrast, dialog seems to provide the only way to any shared Truth.

The idea that we can broaden our scope by simply going to a different web site seems rather unfounded to me. Unless one experiences another culture from close-up and cares to engage in a constructive dialog and exchange, there's no hope of inter-cultural understanding . . . even with the Web. In fact, the web could make it harder because there's no need for exposing or experiencing any vulnerabilities, a requirement for any exchange that could lead to greater understanding and trust.

Walls do not need to be visible or built in bricks and cement. They can be digital and mountains high.

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