intellectual self-defence politics

what the world needs: buyafuckingshovel for news

My worry is that there is so much news that that it is hard to keep attention on the things we think are important. Or, rather, the deluge of information means that we’re more likely to accept someone else’s prioritisation of what is important. (Did you notice how the Guardian’s liveblog of the financial crisis was dropped to make room for the liveblog of events in Libya?)

Similarly, there’s a dark thought I sometimes have, where everybody will know the truth about some of the great ills of our society but nobody will have time or will to do anything about them. Something like a cross between a “somebody else’s problem field” and a late-modernity version of 1984 (it won’t be that everybody knows we have always been at war with Oceania, or really does love big brother; instead everybody will know these are lies, but they will be lies we live by rather than fight). In this grim meathook future we’ll know we’re decimaiting non-human species, or that Tony Blair lied about Iraq, or that our government is eroding vital civil liberties and we’ll care, but we just won’t get round to doing anything for some reason (oh look at this!)

A small example would be the family served with an eviction notice by Wandsworth Council because the son was arrested in the recent London riots. Not even found guilty, just charged! Now I heard this, and I thought it was scandal and symptomatic of a deep problem with the way some of us think about justice. But apart from the excuse of writing this blog post, I never followed it up, never found out if the reported headline reflected the truth. I hoped, vaguely, that someone was fighting this decision. Thought it was probably illegal. Thought a bunch of things, but basically got on with my life. Wouldn’t it be nice if, once something in the news caught my attention, something I decided was important to me, there was an easy mechanism for bringing follow ups on that story to my attention.

What I think I want is something like for news stories. I want a personalised sidebar on the news website I use, and I want it filled with follow ups on the stories that I tag as important to me. This tagging should be as easy as ‘liking’ something on facebook. Now I can get joined up news, which will give me a more coherant and less vulnerable to bias view of the world, and also ensure that I can work with the media to focus on what really matters to me, rather than just the enless succession of the ten thousand things.

Dear, can you fix it for me?

4 replies on “what the world needs: buyafuckingshovel for news”

Great idea! I always think this sort of thing when someone famous falls into a coma and his progress is reported every day for a week, slowly slipping down the news agenda before disappearing entirely. Is Ariel Sharon still on lifesupport? Who knows?

Meta-stuff from this:
– This is another instance of (/Facebook, /windows, /government) not doing what we want it to do, because it is a big centralised privately-owned organisation. Most recent e.g. – when I want to look back at posts older than a week on twitter, I have to look at individual streams – but where there is a conversation between an individual and another person I am also following, I can’t see half of the conversation. It should be woven in.
OK, it’s minor stuff, but: who do I write to at Twitter? Why is there not a standard person in each organisation in charge of fielding “suggested tweaks”? Why don’t we have a universal name for that role?
I wonder how much of our where’smyjetpack? woes are due to this basic endemic structural problem of big shitty organisations not functioning like intelligent networks? Can we not just switch to all intelligent networks now?

Meta-meta: I like these long lower case thought condensators: buyafuckingshovel, theyworkforyou, where’smyjetpack?

Meta-meta-meta: Entertainingly I have said much more to you here than I did in person over a whole weekend!

Good point Suzy, I actually use that feature so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me 🙂 It’s not quite as convenient as just ‘liking’ a post but it’s not far off.

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