Friday, December 5, 2008
Delicious founder Joshua Schachter and technologist/blogger Any Baio have created a new GreaseMonkey script that displays the political orientation of blogs and news sites on the aggregator site Memeorandum. GreaseMonkey is a Firefox extension that allows users to customize the appearance and functionality of Webpages.
Using an algorithm that scores every blog on Memorandum based on linking activity, this new script colorizes the Website. Those who install the GreaseMonkey script will now see Memeorandum in shades of blue and red. Liberal-leaning blogs are blue and conservative-leaning blogs are red. Darker colors represent stronger biases.
These colors are a reflection of bloggers' linking activity; they may not always represent personal views or biases (liberal bloggers often link to conservative sites and vice-versa). However, this script eliminates the arduous task of reading blog after blog on Memeorandum to find one consistent with one's own views. But then again it could fuel peoples' tendency to avoid dissident view points, which for obvious reasons inhibits intelligence. None the less, this GreaseMonkey script, along with Microsoft Blews (see my previous post) is evidence of an emerging form of aggregation intended to help people identify political biases.
To install this application, visit Andy Baio's blog at http://waxy.org/2008/10/memeorandum_colors/
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In doing my bias research this week, I found pictures that took me by surprise on how media gets away with the slant in not only their stories, but also photos.
For instance, here is a picture dated October 18, 1962 showing President Kennedy. Click here to view. It is interesting to see what they did with the photo in order to create a fabrication of the reality of the situation. Read the caption and the following explanation. Of course if the public knew what was really going on at that meeting the nation would have been scared out of their mind, but the picture was put with an article having nothing to do with that aspect and made it seem more comforting to the public eye.
Also, go to this site to see more "pictures that lie" and reveal that looks really can be deceiving. I think it is amazing to see how drastic some of the alterations of the photos are on that page, from something so little as making a person look tan to a more significant thing like incorporating a large object not originally there, such as a soldier. We have Photoshop to thank for most of the deceiving pictures.
Now we really know to never judge a book by its cover, or in this case never judge or trust an article based on its image or artwork!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I'll start off by saying that this post will not be like others seen on The Unbiased Tabloid. Instead of pinpointing and criticizing bias in news coverage, I'd like to take an opportunity to praise the absence of bias that would have likely been staggering in amount had it been present in this article.
Last week, the court in Thailand decided to oust former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and dissolve his party after months of protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy, an anti-government coalition.
Today, there is an article on The Nation, Thailand's leading English news site, titled "Forget me not: Somchai Wongsawat." If you haven't yet known, the former PM was forced to resign after being found guilty of electoral fraud. I agree that he has been unseated anyway, and that we shouldn't go back blaming him over and over again, instead the country should move on and resolve the chaos created after a long period of protests. But the article appears to be too "generous" with Mr. Wongsawat. It seems like the author is trying to help Mer. Wongsawat save the last bits of his wounded reputation.
"...the dissolution of his party had freed him from duty, paving the way for other responsible people to take over the country's reins.""...he had worked to the best of his ability right up to his last day in office."
"I can do charity work, and don't need any authority to do the job,' Somchai said."
About his wife, Mr. Wongsawat said: "She has supported me since we married. She would never leave me. I know she supports and encourages me all the time. I also support and encourage her all the time. We don't need to say this to each other."
Most of the media in Thailand is government-censored, including The Nation. Hence it is surprising that some of the news would play favor towards the government, even when that government is already dissolved. Even if the government does something wrong, the mainstream media would not report facts and information that overtly put the government in the awkward position. They would say things that don't sound wrong and opinionated to save the face of the government.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
This is not so much an article of biased media report, but it is closely related to what we discussed in class a while ago about the importance of keeping pace with modern technologies. We talked about how technologies such as RSS feeds or SMS are importance to journalists to bring the news to the public asap. Not only journalists, but also terrorists, are utilizing new technologies. I found an article on www.news.com.au about how terrorists in the Mumbai attack over the weekend have been using Blackberry to keep updated with news, domestic as well as international, since the government cut all cable TV feeds into the buildings.
They managed to attack the Chatrapati Shivaji railway station, Cama Hospital - a charitable hospital for women and children, Cafe Leopold - a common hangout place for tourists, Taj Mahal and the Oberoi/Trident Hotels, a Jewish center which also houses visiting Israelis.
Besides standard weapons and tools such as automatic weapons, grenades, fake identity cards and credit cards, connection with insiders of the hotels...the most important weapons, according to www.new.com.au, were " humble mobile phones and internet technology" - Blackberrys. This was totally unexpected by the anti-terrorist forces. They could cut cable lines to the hotels, but how would they block the terrorists' internet access?
The use of Blackberrys provides the terrorists with a major advantage in a battle like this: knowing their enemies. They gain access to public reaction of the event on a global scope. They are updated of the political situations. They have eyes everywhere. These are major strengths compared to conventional terrorist attacks.
After all, these terrorists are just like one of us, who are familiar with and knowledgeable about the tools we use in our everyday lives. Just like a journalist needs to know the tools available to his job, the terrorist needs to know the tools available for him to achieve his goals.
On the first day of the attack, I also got to watch a video on CNN of a journalist reporting to CNN from a hotel room. I don't know what happened to him after that, whether he survived or not. But one thing for sure, he had helped the public gain insight about the situation, a view from an insider, a person who was right at the spot, one whose faith was still undecided.
It's hard to say whether technology helps life for the better or worse. It assists people in carrying out good acts just as much as destructive ones. It's just the matter of who uses it more efficiently. If our enemy uses it well, it's our job to understand the technology and think of ways to override it.