Thoughts on “How technology disrupted the truth”

By | 12/07/2016

How technology disrupted the truth is currently a popular topic. This statement is a fallacy because technology is not misleading people. People with political agendas are disrupting the truth. If you remember back to the Obama campaigns you will remember that bloggers were seen as part of the solution, not the problem. In the social age when everything shifts towards clicks and audience reach people lose focus on the value that the world wide web and user generated content can play. With the way in which social media have been hijacked by political groups, trolls, flamers and others it is hard to see social media as sustainable.

Religion, language and interpretation

Information has always been controlled by those who have the funds and the technology to distribute it. There was a time when writing and Latin were the barriers to entry. If you could read you could access information. The better your understanding of Latin and the more in control you were of the information that you could access. The Dark ages, as many of us have read about were a period in time when information contained in books and other manuscripts were read, duplicated and interpreted and that information was then used to provide an interpretation of what was permissible in science and politics. With the shift from Latin to English, French and other European languages the number of interpretations of certain texts could grow. Add to this the arrival of the printing press and the speed with which information could be spread increased. It also provided greater power to the masses as they could interpret moral rules and ethics themselves.

Industrial revolution

Although it is seldom discussed the Industrial revolution and literacy are closely connected. While parents and older children would be working the machines, mining the coal and labouring so their children would be in school learning to read and write. They would have a religious education and be taught values that would make them easier to control. At the same time by increasing literacy so did people’s ability of self-determination increase. Why would a worker accept what you say as truth when he can read an article proving or disproving the claim made by his employer. Literacy also gave people access to the written press and journalism.

Koenig and Bauer sold two of their first models to The Times in London in 1814, capable of 1,100 impressions per hour. The first edition so printed was on 28 November 1814. They went on to perfect the early model so that it could print on both sides of a sheet at once. This began the long process of makingnewspapers available to a mass audience (which in turn helped spread literacy), and from the 1820s changed the nature of book production, forcing a greater standardization in titles and other metadata. Their company Koenig & Bauer AG is still one of the world’s largest manufacturers of printing presses today. Source

The beauty of the written and printed word, of journalism and of the Printed press is that it provided thousands of people with the same information at the same time and people could check the veracity of what someone had read. Another important aspect of printed journalism was reputation. If you printed reliable and useful information then your readership would grow and your authority would grow. In such a landscape anytime a newspaper or journal would make a mistake or misrepresent information their reputation and circulation numbers would suffer.

By the early 19th century, many cities in Europe, as well as North and South America, published newspaper-type publications though not all of them developed in the same way; content was vastly shaped by regional and cultural preferences.[24] Advances in printing technology related to the Industrial Revolution enabled newspapers to become an even more widely circulated means of communication. In 1814, The Times (London) acquired a printing press capable of making 1,100 impressions per hour.[25] Source

Political bias

“Our news ecosystem has changed more dramatically in the past five years,” she wrote in March, “than perhaps at any time in the past 500.” The future of publishing is being put into the “hands of the few, who now control the destiny of the many”. News publishers have lost control over the distribution of their journalism, which for many readers is now “filtered through algorithms and platforms which are opaque and unpredictable” source

Berlusconi, Murdoch and others controlled or still control big portions of the news media landscape in Italy and England. This control has allowed them to shape how and what people think about a number of issues. In effect it allowed them to shape public opinion.

“According to a Loughborough University study, once newspaper circulation is taken into account, just 18 percent of media coverage was pro-Remain compared with 82 percent pro-Leave.”


If you were in favour of Europe in Great Britain during the EU referendum campaign you would have been hard pressed to find articles supporting the view that the European Union was a good thing. Even those that supported Remain had articles that were negative about the EU.

Although the author writes that In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true – as we often see in emergency situations, when news is breaking in real time. I would argue that the main issue is media literacy. People take as truth what are nothing more than rumours. People believe that if they read just one source of information that it will be sufficient to get a good understanding of current affairs that this is the case.

As people have shifted towards Social media and web platforms so their browsing is done automatically rather than actively. News publishers have lost control over the distribution of their journalism, which for many readers is now “filtered through algorithms and platforms which are opaque and unpredictable”. Source I would argue that the situation is as bad for the audience as it is for publishers. Social media are meant to be social, conversational, between friends but media platforms have now tried to be about news, about entertainment, about friends and about events. By combining all of these things social networks such as Facebook have lost their value. That unpredictability as the writer phrases it translates in to unreliability when it is used as a communication tool between individuals. More time is spent sorting through the feed than finding interesting and relevant information.

I switched back to blogging because of this trend: The New York Times announced that its operating profits had fallen by 13%, to $51.5m – healthier than most of the rest of the publishing industry, but quite a drop. Facebook, meanwhile, revealed that its net income had tripled in the same period – to a quite staggering $1.51bn. When you think about it this is pathetic. If you have 1.6 billion facebook users and your revenue is 1.51bn USD then your customer is worthless. One dollar per user for an entire quarter. With that return on investment is facebook really to be envied?

“When reorganisation and cost-cutting in this core area jeopardise accustomed journalistic standards, it hits at the very heart of the political public sphere. Because, without the flow of information gained through extensive research, and without the stimulation of arguments based on an expertise that doesn’t come cheap, public communication loses its discursive vitality.

This is clearly evident in comment streams. People are happy to flame each other rather than to share points of view and attempt to understand the other point of view. Discourse has been replaced by quick comments rather than thoughtful responses.

I would argue on this point “But we must also grapple with the issues underpinning digital culture, and realise that the shift from print to digital media was never just about technology.” that digital culture has not been the big change but that the mass migration from analogue media to digital media by the mainstream, average person is the big change. I would argue that although studying was seen as a Mickey Mouse course by some it does show value in today’s media landscape. We see how those who are media illiterate are drown towards the appealing lies and unrealistic promises rather than the well thought out and well understood policies of professional and realistic people. Truth

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