In the latest episode of the #SmallDataForum podcast, Sam Knowles, Thomas Stoeckle, and Neville Hobson, subject the latest piece of Big News to their usual scrutiny. There’s lively debate about old vs new media, with the right-wing traditional media (particularly the press) apparently little more than an echo chamber of vitriol, as well as the fleet-footed use of social channels and influencers to target younger voters. The very younger voters who were largely ignored in 2016’s two seismic polls and whom traditional media finds harder and harder to touch.
SDF episode 9 discusses the challenges and opportunities of accelerating progress in the areas of machine learning and AI (which for us means augmented, rather than 'just' artificial intelligence). When it comes to permanent change driven by technological advancement, the genie is out of the bottle and it is too late to resist change. We need to get better at understanding it and living with it.
Another key subject are the big social media platforms and their roles as pure technological intermediaries, as opposed to taking on the responsibilities of publishers. This is a complex and controversial field, with a broad range of opinions. Robert Thompson, CEO of News Corp. and former editor of The Times, published a strongly worded editorial in the Times on 10th April where he claimed that "the two most powerful news publishers in human history have created an ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive". He calls for Authenticated Authenticity – verified provenance, accuracy, reality – as an asset of increasing value.
Our general, rather broad advice is to question everything. More specifically, seek out sources with a proven track record that you can trust, with authors that link to things they state – to allow verification
A topic that’s dominated our conversation in recent episodes of The Small Data Forum podcast is fake news and related issues.
In episode 7, hosted by Thomas Stoeckle in conversation with regulars Neville Hobson and Sam Knowles, we consider world wide web inventor Tim Berner-Lee’s call to action on what he sees as three big challenges for the web:
The second one in particular – spread of misinformation – offers another perspective on the fake news topic, part of the so-called post-Truth world, that speaks to a key aspect of this contemporary phenomenon: the dissemination of falsehoods and how can we address that. Thomas asks: Is it time for a new or updated Cluetrain manifesto? Cue lively discussion.
In their first SDF podcast of 2017, Neville, Sam and Thomas enjoy a wide-ranging conversation that looks at the issues of loss of trust in institutions, fake news and post-truth from the perspective of machine learning, psychology and personality mapping, political marketing, neurosciences, understanding audiences through better data, and ultimately how to tell more compelling stories with better data.