Bernie Sanders on JRE

Sweeping conversation between Joe Rogan and Bernie Sanders in which they cover many important topics: climate change, student debt, mass shootings, money in politics. Also of particular interest, how legacy media and traditional debate formats are more spectacle than informative in discussing policy and presidential candidates. Interesting throughout.

Elites hand-wring about the internet

person holding sand

Photo by Eugenio Felix on

Highly interesting notes from a conference attended by elites who worry about their loss of control over society. From a newly discovered (by me) blog: the fifth wave

Sometime this year, I found myself at a conference centered around the theme of “regaining trust.”  For obvious reasons, I won’t name names, but it was a professional gathering of the old regime:  the industrial elites.  In their hundreds if not thousands, I was swarmed by people of good will who were also smart, articulate, and hyper-educated.  They craved, sincerely, to help the disadvantaged and save the earth.  The words “science” and “reason” were perpetually on their lips, as if they held the copyright for these terms – which, in a sense, they did.  And if they were a bit defensive, a tad obtuse, their intentions were the purest I could imagine.

Learn like an athlete

Ask LeBron about his off-season training regimen, and he’ll share a detailed run-down of his workout plan and on-the-court practice routine. When he entered the NBA, LeBron wasn’t a strong shooter. I’d bet the house that early in his career, LeBron built his off-season training regimen around his weak jump shot and disappointing 42% field goal percentage during his rookie season. As his Instagram posts reveal, LeBron worked for his strength, agility, impeccable history of injury avoidance, and an outstanding 54% field goal percentage during his 14th NBA season.

From David Perell who explores how knowledge workers should train themselves to learn like athletes train to improve their physicality.

Having a responsible, productive relationship with technologies- Digital Minimalism- Cal Newport’s new book

Cal Newport’s new book, Digital Minimalism: Choose a Focused Life in a Noisy World, builds on his previous work of offering arguments as to why we should moderate our use of technologies. Newport, a computer scientist at Georgetown University, stitches together the ways that we open ourselves to constant distractions. And as a result, we are ill-suited to perform well in our lives. The ability to focus and do “deep work” is the more valuable today than IQ, according to Newport.

Learn more about the book and Cal at his website here.

And listen to is interview on WBUR here.

Communication Tech and Free Speech Spur Sociopolitical Change

Originally published here: – Posted to Technology March 26, 2015 by 

Communication Tech and Free Speech Spur Sociopolitical Change

During the previous 10 years, conflicts and sociopolitical instability of different types touched nearly every corner of the world. New communication technologies are at the center of the discussion regarding strategy, policy and outcomes of these conflicts.  With the assistance of camera-phones, the civil war in Syria could very well be the most documented war of all time. ISIS is demonstrating technological sophistication by using social media to gain supporters and recruits.

On December 17, 2010, police in Tunisia confiscated a vegetable cart from jobless, college-educated Tunisian citizen, Muhamed Bouazizi, who subsequently set himself on fire in protest.  Since then, a wave of violent and nonviolent regime change has taken down Egypt’s Mubarak, Libya’s Gaddafi, and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, while still threatening others.

What these activities in diverse environments demonstrate is that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social media are now an integral part of protest movements and violent conflicts around the globe.

But we are only starting to learn about the role of ICTs on sociopolitical engagement and activism. Theoretically, these technologies allow the citizenry to create and acquire information outside of state-controlled media.  Governments try to control online activity, but savvy users can circumvent the authorities, eroding the regime’s chokehold on public discourse.

One of the more prominent debates about the complex relationship of new ICTs and activism during the Arab Spring sprang from discussions between Clay Shirky and Evgeny Morozov. Shirky, a technological optimist, provided numerous examples of social media and communication technologies enabling quick and decisive political action. For example, Filipino citizens using text messaging to help spur mass protests to bring down Philippine President Joseph Estrada as far back as 2001.

But Morozov illuminated numerous problems regarding the democratizing force of communication technologies. He pointed to the failed Green Revolution in Iran in 2009, which many in the West deemed the “Twitter Revolution,” as an example of not only the limited capacity of communication technologies to usher in change, but also the dangers with which the technologies can be used against the protesters when the resistance fails. Governments are increasingly savvy at surveillance, censorship, producing propaganda, and digitally tracking dissenters.  He warned against “technological determinism,” the certainty that technologies forge political, social, and cultural changes.

In my recently-completed dissertation, I tested the theoretical propositions set forth by Shirky, Morozov, and many other scholars, including Dr. Erica Chenoweth, at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and Dr. Jacob Groshek at the Emerging Media Studies Division at Boston University.

Using cross-national panel data from 1990-2012, I examined the relationships among sociopolitical instability, major intrastate conflicts, democracy levels, and media and new ICT penetration rates and press freedoms. My results suggested several compelling conclusions.

First, countries with higher rates of Internet and cell-phone penetration are more likely to experience nonviolent conflict compared to violent conflict and to have higher levels of institutionalized democracy. Similarly, higher levels of press freedoms were strong predictors of sociopolitical stability, nonviolent conflict over violent conflict, and increased levels of institutionalized democracy.

Second, Internet and cell-phone use strongly related to increased occurrences of anti-government demonstrations but also purges and government crackdowns on political opposition.

These results add insight into whether dissenters or governments use new ICTs alternatively to organize or suppress opposition.  In fact, both sides of the argument deserve credit.  New ICTs were related to higher instances of anti-government organization and instances of government crackdowns.

These findings confirm the intuition that technology now plays a central role in the dynamics of political change.  There is strong evidence that new ICTs are democratizing influences.  They appear to be highly related to regime-challenging nonviolent conflict, which is quicker, more effective, and more likely to lead to democracy than violent conflict.

This reinforces the understood concept that freedom of speech and expression help societies deliberate their futures. While, to some, freedom of expression is a “western value,” it is nonetheless positively related to democracy, and to nonviolent rather than to violent conflict. And ample experience and research demonstrates that this type of stability is a key to long-term peace and prosperity.  In this way, ICTs help contribute to prosperous and peaceful societies.

These findings should be of interest to researchers, democracy and civil rights advocates, and policymakers. Supporting authoritarian governments that control the media and new ICT systems in a country may appeal to some people who opt for short-term stability over freedom of speech and democratic rights.  But ICTs are making that an ever-more difficult and unproductive task.  In the long run, the goal must be longer-lasting peace and development. The Internet, social media, and mobile devices have upped the stakes for both protesters and authoritarian regimes and must be taken into account when making policy towards them.

When It Comes to Public Trust in Science, Issues and Media Outlets Matter

Originally published here:– Posted to Energy February 26, 2015 by 

When It Comes to Public Trust in Science, Issues and Media Outlets Matter

recent study by researchers Erik Nisbet, Kathryn Cooper, and R. Kelly Garrett from Ohio State University found evidence that, depending on the issue, liberals and conservatives were similarly likely to distrust science. The distrust by the liberal and conservative groups was higher when the issues were politically charged. These issues included climate change, evolution (liberals more likely to trust science), and fracking, nuclear power (conservatives more likely to trust science). The researchers pointed to the media as one of the factors that likely politicizes these debates, and as a result, harms scientific progress related to educating the public.

Global warming is one of the most hotly debated political issues in the US today. Issues stemming from global warming range from national investments in alternative energy sources, where and whether or not to drill for oil, and increased tax rates for companies that consume high levels of fossil fuels. Among politicians, these issues typically fall along partisan lines. Democrats are more likely to favor investing government funds in alternative energy, restricting increased oil drilling, and taxing companies for fossil fuel consumption while Republicans are more likely oppose these things.

In the August 2011 edition of the Journal of Communication, Xiaoquan Zhao of George Mason University, Anthony A. Leiserowitz of Yale University, Edward W. Maibach of George Mason University, and Connie Roser-Renouf of George Mason University conducted a study regarding media consumption habits and global warming perceptions. The results of their study support the notion that politicians and the news media have contributed to making global warming a partisan issue.

The study consisted of online panel survey data of 2,164 U.S. residents age 18 and older. The respondents indicated on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 4 (very closely) to what kind of news they paid attention. Categories that indicated that the respondents paid attention to political news were national politics, state politics, and local politics. The categories the environment and science and technology indicated that the respondents paid attention to science and environment news. In order to gauge science-based beliefs, the researchers asked respondents about their certainty that global warming is occurring, perceived human cause, and perceived scientific agreement over the issue. They also asked respondents about their perceived risk of global warming (happening now, harm you personally, impacts over the next 20 years), as well as their level of support for emission reducing policies. In addition, political ideology, religiosity, and demographics were part of the analysis.

They found that individuals who paid attention to science/environment news possessed views in-line with science-based beliefs. That is, people who consumed science/environment news perceived global warming as a valid threat supported by evidence from the scientific community. Conversely, individuals who paid attention to political news viewed global warming as a matter of debate, of lower risk, and had fewer views based on scientific beliefs.

The researchers attribute part of the reason for the divide to the notion that scientific/environmental journalists are becoming more educated regarding scientific facts of global warming. The vast majority of scientific research supports claims that global warming is occurring and that consumption of carbon by humans exacerbates the problem. As such, individuals who consume science-based news possess views more closely related to the scientific community pertaining to global warming.

Global warming is a distinctive issue because the effects are gradual and not yet apparent to a lot of people. In general, the American public thinks the urgency of global warming is overstated. The media is essential in disseminating information about uniquely complicated issues like global warming, and vibrant public discourse depends on accurate information.

It is possible that political news journalists and reporters adherence to objectivity has something to do with the divergent opinions from the individuals that consume this news. If an issue is presented as partisan by politicians, then journalists likely feel obligated to report both sides of the story, even if facts are present that rebut one of the sides (think about the “birther” and “death panels” issues). A common assumption in political communication scholarship is that politically engaged individuals who consume public affairs news possess higher levels of political knowledge.  This study lends itself to the argument that not all news is equal, and that the type of news an individual pays attention to reflects that individuals’ knowledge regarding issues.