Brooke, Clive and Ethan at Aspen

Friday, September 04, 2009


Over the summer Brooke hosted a conversation with Ethan Zuckerman, founder of Global Voices, and Clive Thompson, technology writer for the New York Times Magazine and Wired. The topic was homophily: the tendency for individuals to seek out others who share their preferences and ideas. While some would argue this phenomenon has existed forever, Brooke, Clive and Ethan discuss whether the internet exacerbates it or, instead, exposes people to new ideas.

Comments [8]

Mary from Seoul, South Korea

The question I keep having concerns international communities less than national ones. I'm currently living in Seoul, and I often find that I have more in common with many of my Korean coworkers than folks that I've met here from Arkansas and Iowa. How can we get the communication going between the diverse populations in the United States--especially right now, when the failure of communication is so evident in our governing bodies?

I don't know how to get in touch with some folks, and I also don't know if it always helps. It's hard to resist homophily. Communication, too, is a two-sided thing: it not only takes my willingness to listen to my friends from AK but their willingness to listen to me. It's demanding! The idea that one shouldn't talk politics in mixed company--so prevalent in our culture--along with the ability to find like minds so easily online can't do much to ameliorate the situation.

Aug. 01 2011 06:15 AM
Amelia Gill from Seattle

My takeaway: the idea of the development of "bridge blogs" (achtung, not in Wikipedia) interpreting the online but hopefully also the off-Web and non-English media of foreign countries, succinctly intelligently and informedly telling the world what's important lately and why for those regions. My hope: people would grow accustomed to reading and writing this style of journalism, and eventually it would be used in domestic reporting, especially in the US.

Sep. 16 2009 12:08 PM

Please remember that there are those of us who adore jazz as much as punk rock! Perhaps I'm an outlier, but for everybody to agree that all people can essentially be boxed into one musical genre is disappointing. I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets passionate about more than one kind of music, or film, or book... Hopefully a longer/more in depth version of the discussion would move beyond simple stereotypes?

Sep. 12 2009 02:32 PM
Renzo Massari

Perhaps cataloging styles of thinking to then provide a news feed to things posted by others outside one's circle, but with similar thinking styles would be a better way to expand the content one is exposed to.

For example, say I'm a data-driven, analytical type of person and who knows how many other dimensions with positive loads; and with negative loads on some others like "life stories". Kind of what Pandora does with music, but for articles, news, etc.

At that point, the algorithm will direct me to articles about a survey on homelessness, but stir me away from a piece that tells the stories of individual homeless people.

This could be the result of me searching "homeless", but also the result of a directed news feed, the point on the latter being that I will be more likely to click and read on articles on all kinds of topics as long as I can trust that they are written (or recorded) in a thought-style that appeals to me, that I won't be disappointed by it being too something (touchy feely?) or not enough something else (empirical?).

Sep. 10 2009 07:14 PM
David Droddy from Silver Spring, MD

That was AWESOME. Some of the best thought I've heard all year. And not full of a bunch of warnings of snakes in the weeds nonsense!

Sep. 09 2009 09:43 PM
mark harrison

I hope the transcript will be posted soon

Sep. 08 2009 02:20 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven

My internationalism came early and quite naturally to me, as my grandfather occasionally spoke Gaelic to me and I heard Latin at Mass, along with Italian in the small New Haven department store where my father worked, and Spanish in my aunt’s home from the Spanish airline pilot and his family whom she befriended, not to mention African-Americans’ Gullah language which I encountered in both environments. I realized that these languages developed elsewhere, so I investigated.

In high school, in a new community, my best friend spun a yarn, which I entirely believed, that he was adopted (true) from a missionary family who died in a mission fire in Kenya, that he was first adopted by the tribe they worked with and married before being found and adopted by the Americans whom finally did. Meantime, his interest in international matters reinforced my own and, while he took French, Latin and German, I took Spanish and German and we both listened to Miriam Makeba. As he became the first President of the International Students’ Club at the University of New Haven, he was dealing with friends escaping the wrath of the Shah, while my cousin was going to work for him in Iran.

I have always felt blessed to never having been able to escape the world. Oh, and by the way, I clearly remember being taught about the revolutions in Africa, especially the French colonial war in Algeria going on then but also events in the Congo in Social Studies classes as early as, say, 1956, 1957, or thereabouts, grade school current events further spurred by the new immediacy of television – whether in the classroom, as for space missions or just in our young lives - and the relative superior journalism of those heady times of foreign correspondents. So, at least some of us old timers were clued in about the world circa 1951, even in second grade.

How much the Internet can or will inform our general American myopia about the world around them, I do not know.

Sep. 06 2009 09:54 PM
Paul Calzada from NH

This was a great segment! As the conversation moved to discussing how to make people more personally involved in issues outside of their own parochial interests, I feel two obvious resources have to be included: Americans who have lived abroad, and the new immigrants who continually arrive. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (I am one, and I was in Ghana) for example is one group of Americans who have significant experience abroad. Many RPCV groups create programs to inform our society about other countries. And it would be relatively easy for any American who lives in a community where there is an immigrant population to get to know them. The outside world is living here among us - how can we not be concerned about what happens elsewhere?

Sep. 06 2009 11:42 AM

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