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Digital News Cascades


I chose a piece on the idea of digital news cascade from the Nieman Lab. My motivation behind choosing this article is that the material we covered in class recently pertained to the cascading of technologies through networks and clusters. I was curious to see how ideas would fare in terms of network cascades and whether people would start parroting others opinions more easily than making up their own. I had a hunch that this assertion was probably true, but it would be interesting to see how the instruments for network cascades played out in this scenario.

The author, Martin Langeveld, asserts that news/information comes in as raw data and in tradition media, the data has a short shelf life. But with digital media, this raw data stays in circulation and builds upon itself. As new evidence comes to the table, the original data is refuted, disproved, or regurgitated forming a graph of the very such data. Langeveld argues that this newfound permanence for data has unleashed entirely new side effects: writers no longer have to publish new articles with fresh information that will just get shelved eventually when they can simply find a couple new facts and redirect the readers to previous coverage. Readers, consequently, are just spoon fed the same information over and over again in a newly packaged piece. This stagnation of data raises a similar concern to what we were covering in class. Just because a piece of information grows famous through the digital medium does not mean it is the absolute truth like just because a technology gains a large user base does not mean it is the best of its genre. By starting off these network cascades, society is limiting its range of knowledge, but on the other hand, I guess this means that as consumers of such media, we need to be careful to what we lend our support. The onus is no longer on the provider but the consumer to reliably consume good media.


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