Participate in ADP’s New Digital Polarization Initiative (#DigiPo)
Announcing ADP’s New Digital Polarization Initiative (#DigiPo)
AASCU’s American Democracy Project is excited to announce a new national initiative on digital polarization to be lead by our inaugural civic fellow, Mike Caulfield of Washington State University Vancouver.
The Digital Polarization Initiative, or “#DigiPo”, is an attempt to build student web literacy by having students participate in a broad, cross-institutional project to fact-check, annotate, and provide context to the different news stories that show up in our Twitter and Facebook feeds. Join the ADP community as we work to advance student civic literacy in our digital and too often polarized age.
Interested? Read on.
What is Digital Polarization?
We’re using digital polarization as a catch-all term for a number of different trends that we are observing on the web.
- The impact of algorithmic filters and user behavior on what we see in platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which tends to limit our exposure to opinions and lifestyles different than our own.
- The legitimization of disinformation, misinformation, and “fake news” on the Internet
- The spread of “callout culture” and harassment on platforms like Twitter, where minority voices and opinions are often bullied into silence.
- State-sponsored hacking campaigns that use techniques such as “weaponized transparency” to try and fuel distrust in democratic institutions.
In certain contexts, each of these things can be valuable. We like seeing news from people like us, even if that restricts our worldview a bit. The line between “fake news” and “minority viewpoint” is not always clear-cut. Bad behavior on the web sometimes need to be called out, and citizens have the right to call powerful people to account. State-sponsored hacking can be use to silence, manipulate, or punish political opponents, but may occasionally uncover important information the public deserves to know.
What we want to look at in this project, both through in-classroom and out-of-classroom activities, are three questions:
- What are the effects of these trends on our democracy?
- What are the underlying causes of these trends?
- If these trends require we act to address them, what can we do to address them, both as individuals and political agents? And how do we do that in ways that don’t destroy the democratic potential of the web?
In the process, we are hoping our students obtain a deeper understanding of how web technologies shape their social and political environments, and learn that taking an active and critical stance toward these technologies can improve our society as a whole.
Complete this Google Form if you’re interested in participating or want to learn more about the initiative.
Note: One of the questions on the Google Form asks if you’re able to join us for the virtual General Interest Session on Monday, January 23rd at 3:30 p.m. EST.