20 YEARS AGO
The Web disrupted journalism.
Anyone could publish a blog to compete with mainstream channels. So news organizations adapted, by putting out more sensational pieces that would be re-shared more widely on email and social media.
The market selects against news stories that present all sides of a story, since they would appear more mundane, and wouldn’t be shared as widely.
To do this, many news organizations picked an audience segment and tell only one side of every story.
In order to attract and lock in a loyal audience, they needed to avoid saying too many good things about “the other side” would not circulate as widely, and cause the segmented audience to go somewhere else to satisfy their tribal confirmation bias.
Alternative media channels have grown tremendously, catering to political audiences of all stripes, including progressives, nationalists, and libertarians. Their whole business model is based on creating on uniting people inside a certain echo chamber, and against various politicians and groups outside of it.
The profit motive influences their incentives and story selection to be one-sided, even more than in the mainstream media.
At the same time, our social platforms are for-profit enterprises as well. To meet Wall Street’s quarterly expectations, they need to get more eyeballs and “engagement” for users to click on ads.
Their proprietary algorithms select stories that will generate the most comments and reshares. This typically means that they will prioritize outrage clickbait, and people will be herded into increasingly insulated echo chambers that shape their view of the world.
Our current model leaves it up to each individual to figure out what is true or not, on a host of political, sociological and scientific issues. Expecting everyone to be an expert in every subject and listen to the latest literature from both sides is unreasonable.
We can’t even defend ourselves from the onslaught of notifications that vie for our valuable attention, from apps and that compete to “engage” us. The current system has addicted millions and robbed our generation of spending quality time with our family.
HOW CAN WE SOLVE THIS
The for-profit model is based on competition. Our news, public forums and discourse are taking place in privately owned enterprises. Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, Mark Zuckerberg, started companies that shape public discourse. George Soros and the Koch brothers indirectly exercise influence on it as as well.
Now, with great power comes great responsibility. Zuckerberg is lambasted by some congresspeople for not taking action on false ads and posts, and then chewed out for taking action on other similar ads and posts. Regardless of their specific policies, the problem is that these platforms are too big to do right by everybody. Their algorithms often end up empowering extremists while suppressing and silencing relatively moderate voices.
Collaboration, rather than competition, can form the basis for a more responsible news industry and social media community platforms.
Linus Torvalds started Linux, Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web, and Vitalik Buterin started Ethereum, but they do NOT privately own or control the whole platform. Anyone can download their own copy, and make valuable contributions back to the network.
This open, permissionless model is precisely why Linux, the Web, Ethereum and countless other open source projects have helped the world create a lot more wealth than proprietary platforms.
The Web has led to business models like e-commerce and software-as-a-service, empowering countless small businesses. Smart contracts are now letting any community deploy innovative fintech solutions for their own members.
HOW RATIONAL.APP WORKS
We are Building a
Based entirely around collaboration and open data, rather than competition and private ownership.
Simply post a link
Within those threads to the claim’s page hosted on rational.app — if someone has something to add, challenge or debunk, they can do it there.
Billions of People have
Mobile Phones and Cameras.
They can record newsworthy events and contribute them to the community.
The dependence of some claims on other claims, via arguments, can be easily traced and anayzed by various tools used by the open community. Probabilities can be calculated, and new bombshell discoveries can have an effect probabilities across many different claims, changing people’s opinions in ways they can explain.
Claim gets its own Page
With arguments for and against, and supporting evidence hyperlinked to other claims. This is what the web was designed for.
Each claim can be debated
Arguments for and against are submitted, deduplicated and voted up or down, in order to rank their relevance.
GOVERNANCE OF THE
PLATFORM IS DONE BY
CLEAR RULES ENFORCED BY THE NETWORK.
We believe that by building an alternative to the for-profit model, we are creating a public resource that people can turn to in order to get balanced, thoughtful coverage of news, politics, science and religion.
There may certainly a place for “ownership” of audiences and fans (eg the entertainment industry).
But we need as a society to come together and see if we can do better by with modern technology and the principles of open and fair collaboration.
This model takes a bit of time to arrive at a consensus and balanced understanding of what’s going on. But the shareable articles and pages presented to the public can be trusted to have taken note of objections from both sides, instead of ignoring them.
People can set notifications to watch when certain claims become more or less likely, and can update their understanding and votes about arguments on other claims.
In keeping with these principles, all contributions are free to copy and remix, all the software is open sourced.
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Is social media responsible for our democracy’s current crisis? An increasing amount of political information (and misinformation) gets disseminated online, and many Americans do not trust the media, do not trust Congress and do not trust the president… (Click to read more)
Hillman column: Social media is tearing us apart, and it’s our own fault
We live in a truly strange and unsettling time in America… (Click to read more)
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How Russia is losing — and winning — the information war in Ukraine
Russia’s war in Ukraine isn’t just being fought on the ground and in the air with tanks, artillery and fighter jets. It’s also playing out online, where the Kremlin and its allies are using propaganda, fake social media accounts, forged documents and manipulated videos and images to push false narratives… (Click to read more)