How to turn ‘Me Vision’ into ‘We Vision’

I’ve read a couple of posts lately about how easy it is to use web 2.0 to inadvertently narrow our thinking; to just be getting information that we agree with. David Warlick live-blogged a talk by Ethan Zukerman where he quoted:

In the Internet age, we end up with the Internet Me, a personal news source where we only hear people who think the same way that we do.

It has gotten me thinking about my own situation. Let’s look at the news sources I consume. I use iGoogle where I have 4 news feed widgets, but 3 of them are from the same news source, the CBC. I also listen to CBC radio and watch the CBC national news. Not a lot of diverse view points there. Living in a smaller town (Penticton, population approx. 20,000) I have limited choices when it comes to radio; it’s CBC, a few cheesy local stations and sometimes I can get NPR. My choices with television news are equally limited since we went cable/satelight free 3 years ago (that’s another post in itself). It becomes clear to me that I need to diversify with my internet news feeds, because that is where I really have choice. I may not agree with the view point of certain media outlets, but they offer an insight into what other folks are thinking about current events.

Boxed InIn Michele Martin’s recent post Living in a Blogging Box and How to Get Out of It she talks about how easy it is to end up with limited viewpoints:

The problem with blogging in our comfort zones, though, is that we narrow the possibilities for learning and creativity that come from exposing ourselves to new and different perspectives. If I stay in the edu-blogger community or the technology community of bloggers, with little contact with anyone else, it’s easy to get sucked into the sort of group-think that naturally evolves when any community of people comes together.

As a newbie blogger, I built up my blog subscriptions as one might expect. I’d find some influencial blogs, in my case Clay Burell’s Beyond School and Sue Waters’ Mobile Technology in TAFE. If their posts linked to other blogs I would check them out, and if I liked them, I would subscribe. I’d also read the comments after their posts and if I liked what someone wrote, I’d check them out and maybe start subscribing to them. What I’m finding now is that I’m often reading the same people. I might be reading Dean Shareski’s blog, but many of the people commenting are already in my feed reader, which isn’t surprising considering how I got my subscriptions.

I’ve also noticed that with most of the blogs I read that there are very few dissenting opinions in the comments. Notice I didn’t say no dissenting views. So my strategy on subscribing to blogs is letting me down in that I’m not being exposed to alternate views. This is not to say that I’m not learning a lot–I am!

My goal for the next few weeks is move from my ‘Me Vision’ to ‘We Vision’. I’m going to add some different media outlets to my news reader. I’m also going to follow some of Michele Martin’s suggestions and try to diversify my blog subscriptions with the help of Google Alerts and StumbleUpon. Hopefully I’ll avoid group think and possibly get more exposure for my blog 🙂

Are you concerned that your ‘world view’ is too narrow? Are you seeing the downsides of ‘Internet Me’? What are you doing to expand your vision? I’d love to hear your strategies.

Image: Day 296: Boxed In by Mrs. Maze

12 thoughts on “How to turn ‘Me Vision’ into ‘We Vision’

  1. If I reflect on where my views are mostly challenged – it is actually my own blog posts. Since we often don’t read people’s comments on posts – we don’t always read the challenging of view points.

    In terms of being exposed to a wide blog community – the 31 Day Project was definitely beneficial because I interacted with more individuals and more people learnt about more blog. Instead of Stumbleupon and Google Alerts I subscribed to technorati and Google Blog Search tags – for mlearning and elearning. Through these tags I then came across some really good new blogs that I liked – you have to take the good with the bad using this method. But it was really effective.

    Interestingly enough – I think the combination of Clay and I is fascinating as we blog so differently; and link to different people.

    Is my view too narrow? Not sure. There is a need for a certain amount of repetition since sometimes the same thing needs to be said several ways for you to pay attention. I subscribe to over 200 blogs; however do prefer some styles to others. Twitter does expand your view; and also I now follow all links on the Edublogger which expands it even more. And the Better Blog community offers even more exposure.

  2. Pingback: » Tips for Diversifying Blog Subscriptions! Mobile Technology in TAFE

  3. Pingback: » Tips for Minimising Group Think Mobile Technology in TAFE

  4. Sue, thanks for your suggestion to use Google Blog Search tags. I’ve used the search before, but have never subscribed to the tags–I wasn’t really sure what it was about. Your post today, Tips for Minimising Group Think helped me to understand how to use this tool.

  5. Great topic! Hi, Amy Jussel here, just reported a bit on the kids’ version of ‘group think’ (peer to peer, parent parroting, etc.) writing about the need for critical thinking skills universally, so THANKS for this post.

    As a former journalist, I purposely read news from different countries to get a surround sound snapshot of any one story I’m following to prevent myopia and narrow point of view.

    We’re all entitled to our opinions, but in order to attach strength to any conviction, I strongly feel being well-informed on the given topic is essential. Sadly…few do.

    In fact if you want to see an example of ‘differing opinions,’ on one post, and how VERY lightly formed they tend to be (most are leaving a ‘kneejerk reaction’ comment based on a narrowcast ‘one ad’ focus vs. taking the time to see the context of the post overall on a much larger conversation) Shaping Youth’s post about the Target billboard blogosphere media madness is indicative of how narrowcasting can create distortions sans critical thinking skills and dilute and derail an entire conversation into a brouhaha out of proper context.

    Here’s the original post http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=969
    Now…make note of how the commentary doesn’t refer to the post itself as much as the narrowcast ‘sound-bite’ framing/coverage by the NYT here: http://tinyurl.com/2k5uga

    Then notice that even when I posted the full NYT e-interview to clarify context on Shaping Youth, most commentary reflects that people were still ‘reacting’ to what they ‘thought’ was the story in ‘narrowcast’ me vs. we synapses firing…

    My point? Even if you TRY to get people to look beyond their narrow horizons to see the much bigger picture, the mass majority tends to stay comfy with their own views and vehemence, even when it’s not close to accurate truth.

    (goes to the old ‘lead a horse to water’ adage…) 😉

    Still, as educators, it’s our job to TRY to instill those critical thinking skills, imho…so I applaud you for even opening the dialog and looking at your own media choices…

    p.s. Just wrote a similar piece on critical thinking skills re: Nickelodeon’s kids’ election coverage here: http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=1078

  6. Salon.com had an interesting article after the last US election touching on this topic.

    The Salon writers were following a lot of pro-Democrat and anti-Bush blogs in the run-up to the election. They effectively created a house of mirrors where everywhere they looked they saw the same idea reflected – that Bush and the Republicans had to go and would not be elected again. They took this as a reflection of the opinions of all voters, needless to say the election results were a bit of a shock. I’ll try to track down the article for you.

  7. Hey, noticed in OLDaily yesterday that you’re just down the road in Penticton. I guess I’m a lapsed edublogger at best, but I’ve been pondering educational technology and design here from Summerland for years, and I was pondering this very issue way back when. Never did come up with any good answers to those questions — I’ve found that I go through periods where I expand the numbers and types of voices I’m listening to, and other times when I pare it right back down to the essentials, which are usually ones I’m agreeing with (down to six ed.feeds right now).

    Also noticed that you said you were on Flickr — feel free to join the I Love the Okanagan group if you have photos of the region you’d like to share.

  8. Amy, thanks for your comments. I guess it is largely part of the human condition to align with people who have similar viewpoints. Giving voice to ‘knee jerk’ reactions seems to be so common these days. I try not to comment or post right away if something gets my blood boiling; I know that I need a bit of perspective and a chance to check out all sides of the story.

    Alison, I’d love to read the Salon article. I certainly noticed a similar scenario in the media I was listening to during that last election.

  9. Jeremy, thanks for dropping by! Your october post is really along a similar line to what I’m getting at here. I’m definitely going to check out some of the blogs you mentioned to see what the “other” learning networks are talking about!

  10. At four-and-a-half years old, I didn’t expect many of the links from that post to still be alive, but most are. I imagine there are probably dozens of networks of loosely joined educational blogs by now, likely with some overlap and probably focused in specific areas (classroom teaching, ed.tech, k-12, post-secondary, school 2.0, etc…). Five years ago, there were certainly fewer, so the best bubbled up to the top pretty easily.