Finding civilized conversation in a more polarized age
Table of Contents
Thank you for visiting the EchoBurst repository. This README details the broad goals and objectives of the project, and will be updated as those objectives are met to better reflect the current state of the project.
In days’ past, we had limited choices in what media we consumed and who we interacted with. This limited reach forced us to be less selective: we would talk to those who were closest, watch the channels we could afford and read the papers printed in our area. With the dawn of the internet, many hoped that we would see an expansion in how many views a person had access to, but we have found the opposite to be the case. Since we can now choose from a functionally unlimited number of perspectives, we can customize who and what we interact with to fit whatever view we already had, creating echo chambers of unparalleled fortitude.
This problem is too large to be solved by any one effort, but we hope to contribute in some small part. The way we hope to do this is by creating a tool that works against the paradigm created by social media of increasingly isolated echo chambers and growing distrust and animosity towards those who dissent against our established beliefs. As explained in the project description, we hope to do this by making it easier to find comments that promote civil discussion (i.e., are not simply toxic, but contribute to the conversation) but oppose the view of the user. In this way, we hope that users will be able to expand their horizons without having to sift through hundreds of destructive and potentially hateful comments to find them. We also know that it is difficult to overcome human nature; in this case distrust of the other and belief perseverance. We hope to utilize other aspects of human nature, such as positive reward feedback loops and competition to overcome this, though the way that this will be accomplished has not been established.
Why It Matters
In an age where political and scientific discourse can literally reshape the face of the planet, our unwillingness to communicate with those we disagree with has caused views to polarize at an exponential rate, and discussion has broken down. If we isolate ourselves from everyone who disagrees with us, we greatly reduce our collective ability to effect change. It is the thesis of this project that most people generally want the same thing: a better, healthier and safer world. Many times, we simply differ on how we believe this can be accomplished. Even in cases where prejudice and distrust infect our discourse, exposure and interaction between hostile groups often leads to the discovery
How To Contribute
For details of how to contribute, please see our CONTRIBUTING.md page. The primary methods to contact us is through private message on Gitter through the EchoBurst Gitter Chat Room. We also have an Etherpad that will see increased activity in the coming weeks. The official email for this project is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our stated objectives have been posted in the Roadmap issue, where they can be discussed, checked off and modified as progress is made. Roadmap
The wiki is where we will post meeting history, as well as resources we think are helpful for the project. We also have a contact information section, though at present it is just Gitter and Etherpad.