Welcome to the latest iteration of Good Words. I hope you'll find something good to read here.
How to Fix Social Media
Nicholas Carr explores the history of broadcasting and considers how we once bent radio and TV to the public interest – however imperfectly – and tries to apply that to the vexing question of how to regulate social media giants.
Tl;DR... There's a difference between personal speech and public speech, and that matters a great deal.
Broadcasting is not grain storage. Because it deals in the intangible goods that shape the public mind — ideas and opinions, facts and fabrications — it is inherently political. That broadcasting had a public calling may have been obvious in the 1920s, but the nature of that calling was not. Without any precedent to draw on, society had to figure out, more or less from scratch, how to accommodate the powerful new technology — how to tap its many benefits while curbing its destructive potential. It was a complicated, daunting challenge, requiring that the interests of the “community at large” be balanced not just against the interests of private businesses but also against the interests of individuals, including the right to freedom of expression.
If that sounds uncomfortably familiar, it’s because we now face a similar balancing act as we struggle to accommodate social media. The way the country met the challenge a hundred years ago, haltingly but effectively, holds important lessons for us today.
People Aren't Meant to Talk This Much
Writing in The Atlantic, Ian Bogost once again provides an unexpected perspective. Maybe the key to managing social media isn't regulating the fallout of its base assumptions but questioning those assumptions. Maybe individuals shouldn't be broadcasters.