Internet of Emotions

Last week, The Atlantic published an article The Like Button Ruined the Internet which discusses the negative impacts of the Like button and other social features. A few days ago, Pew Research Center published The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online which describes various technologists views on the lack of civil online discourse. This supports what I’ve learned from the lecture “Online Identity and Community” [in ITMD485].

What I found interesting about these two articles is how the first article seems to feed the second - with content designed for social engagement, often emotions will be the driving force in any online discussion of the content rather than the substance and argument of it. However, does this mean we should remove social buttons and require paragraph responses? Does that reduce free speech, if social interactions such as Liking a post count as speech?

I’m not sure what the answers are to these questions, but I’m working to find out. At Packback, where I work, we’re trying to improve discussion by having students ask and answer high-level, open-ended questions about what the student is curious about. Check out some of our recent top posts and see for yourself. Hopefully the lessons I learn from building such a platform can apply to other online discourse.

 
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