Struggling with Content Ordering

I agree in freedom of speech. I agree in democratizing publishing. I agree with giving a voice to everyone with as small a barrier to entry as possible. I’m not sure anymore what I think about “neutral” algorithms, code, and design. Optimizing only for what users interact with, or click on or what can be measured is always problematic, but maybe its bigger than that.

Neutral unbiased ranking of content is what is currently building and reinforcing the bubbles on the Web. Treating one like as being just as important as another, one comment as just as important as the next. Treating one vocal community’s ideas as just as important as a comment by someone who’s spent their life focused on deeply studying something. Letting that vocal community then shape and reinforce the opinion and content of the web. Forcing others to spend their time fighting back because “someone is wrong on the Internet”. The lack of context around who is speaking is glaring.

If the medium is the message, then what does it say that our mediums use collaborative filtering so that users never see anything other than what is within their own bubble?

But simple reverse chronological sorting fails on so many levels. It is transparent and easy to implement, but it does nothing to combat information overload. Nothing to engage users.  It optimizes for people who have the time to keep up with some particular stream of content. Or for those who are online all the time and so can keep up with an infinite stream. It can only ever engage those users who are already super engaged with that topic or website. A chronologically sorted website seems unlikely to create the level of engagement that a site like Facebook creates by optimizing to keep users within their own bubbles.

 

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