Stitching together our torn politics: news & politics website idea
Large-Scale Problem: Most people naturally read news streams they already agree with, but filter bubbles are making things much worse. Online news has been reinforcing our confirmation-bias: you sign up for blogs you agree with, Google learns what you like to click on and shows you even more. Many people (like me) get our news from Facebook feeds full of either liberal or conservative posts. We wind up both bored (reading too much we agree with) and angry, not understanding other viewpoints. Our nation needs liberals and conservatives to connect again.
Personal-Scale Problem:* When I read an article I really, really want conservatives/liberals to read, I can share it to facebook, where only my friends who already agree with me will read it.
Solution: Create tools that let you make a bargain: I'll read or share your conservative articles if you'll read or share by liberal rants. A gentle currency and gamification of reading differing opinions, with community building exercises.
You could pair up with a friend you already argue with on Facebook, connect with a stranger (Berkeley, say hello to Kansas), or form groups with small discussions. Maybe gently turned into a game. For example, you might earn a point by writing a 2-sentence summary of what an article from another side says; then people who disagree with you have to balance that by writing their summary of your article. We'll help scrape and select articles from different perspectives and have stitched-together groups read them jointly.
There are two possible variants of the Idea Bridge forming, both centered on the exchange of listening:
- Simple book-clubs but just for articles. Every month you and perhaps a few people you tend to agree with share an article with people you disagree with, committing to read what they suggest. We provide suggested invitations and a little bit of a format -- no rocket science, just tools to make it easy and provide a framework.
- My Evil Twin ☑Likes is a wilder ride. Two people sign up, and agree to share articles on Facebook 1-for-1. Participants' feeds will have weekly (or so) articles declaring that My Evil Twin ☑Likes: some article very different from the ones I post. This has decent viral possibilities, and controversial enough to be worth writing about. There are also follow-up businesses based on data collection.
I'd like to bring in some psychological ideas to help people break their barriers and actually listen to each other, and have fun doing it.
Want to be involved? Talk about it for five minutes, brainstorm it, start a team and part-time company together?
This might be a startup?
I think this could be built with about three staff-months of time, quite fast spread out among a team. We need a Drupal dev, a UI designer with flair, a business coordinator. I love the idea of bringing in a psychology student and aiming to be the fiery alternative to No Labels and other groups that look for people who want to play nice and then ask everybody in Congress to pay nice (as if that would deter the bullies).
- Paper Models: Nothing we're doing is terribly dependent on automation. The web development will just make it easy, scaleable. Nothing stops us from doing this with our friends, right now. So we want to muck up all the facebook posts like inviting friends to participate, and then do it all by hand. Want to play today? We can just start.
I'm not writing a blog, but a plan. This would need to be profitable to scale, to pay for the time it would take to build it. I think it could be.
Differentiating from competitors: There are many people trying to get liberals and conservatives together, or get them to read each other's media. All I've seen focus on people who want to come together or want to hear the other side. There seems to be a lot of abstract desire but not much fire here: people think it would be a good idea for someone else to join groups that bring Dems and Reps together. In general these ideas are likely to work for younger demographics, more fiery opinions, and drawing people in -- they're much more for people who want to talk and participate rather than just learn.
Solving a Problem: Successful business cases don't care about externalities, and solving the fracturing of America is an externality -- it might motivate us (it does motivate me) but it isn't the business case. The key problem in the business plan is: I do want my opinion to be heard by people who don't agree with me.