On NPR last week there was a story about homophily. From the on the Media website.

Consuming the same media as your peers is what social scientists call homophily, better known as ‘birds of a feather flock together’. Ethan Zuckerman, blogger and internet theorist, has been trying to fight this instinct online. He offers techniques for surprising and challenging readers with news that they didn't know they wanted.

I have thought about this idea for a long time. I have listened to people talk about communities on the internet. The problem is that communities on the internet are self selected and that leads to homophily. This is not an idea that is new in my life. When I was young all of my friends were close to my house. All you needed to be my friend was to be close to my house and us not want to punch each other. Until 6th grade this seemed to be the same for all the kids in my neighborhood.

In Junior High School people grouped together by interests. Since I could get around on my bike, I could be much more selective about the people who I hung out with. In high school I had a car and could be very selective about my friends. I think that homophily is happening all the time. The question is about how much can we filter out the views of other people? Can we get in a world that we never have any outside opinions? I think we can, but it is up to us not to do that. We the people have to drive ourselves to find views that are different than our own. Too many people do want to do that right now.


Popular Posts