Joho the Blog[2b2k] Echo chamber examples wanted - Joho the Blog

[2b2k] Echo chamber examples wanted

What do you think are the best examples of Web-based echo chambers? These are the examples you’d point to if you wanted someone to see what an echo chamber is.

By “echo chamber” I mean a Web site where people with the same beliefs and values hang out, egg each other on, and do not for a moment seriously consider other points of view. If they link to other points of view, it’s to make fun of them. Participating in these sites should make you more close-minded and more impervious to fact-based counter-arguments.

So what are the best, clearest examples you know of?


19 Responses to “[2b2k] Echo chamber examples wanted”

  1. […] David Weinberger asks: What do you think are the best examples of Web-based echo chambers? […]

  2. Check out the posts, and especially the comments, on

    Don’t go there without a strong stomach though. They often head into overtly racist territory.

  3. Coincidentally, Mark Liberman at Language Log blogged today about the Wall Street Journal’s echo chamber


  5. and anothery

  6. The Berkman Center, whose site reads like a PR site for Google’s corporate agendas.

  7. Now, Brett, be fair – as much as the Berkman Center is a Google ally, there are places far, far, worse. The “Koch-whore” “stink-tanks” make Berkman look downright independent.

    Anyway, regarding the “echo-chamber” argument, I think the deep problem is the destruction of social support for getting things right rather than being popular. This is being further by the “Web 2.0” types who profit from it. I’ll skip specific examples in this comment, it’s well-trod ground.

  8. political right political right

    I’d say HuffPo, but I see lots of cranky conservatives there too.

  9. The Berkman Center is as much in the thrall of Google as think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation are in the thrall of the Koch brothers.

    Just look at what they’re doing this very evening: hyping a big event at which Susan Crawford, who lobbies for Google’s corporate agendas, spreads lies about the broadband marketplace. And will there be one bit of critical examination of her claims? One whit of questioning? Nope. She’s their darling, because she’s with the rest of the them on the Google lawyer-lobbyist team.

    It’s a disgrace to Harvard. But then, few academic institutions care about intellectual honesty or academic integrity more than they do about the next dollar they can get from a big donor.

  10. All lawyer/lobby groups are advocates for their funders, as opposed to disinterested truth-seekers. But I think there’s levels of distinction to be drawn here. For example, I don’t see the Berkman Center using character assassination as a tactic in the same way as has been done against prominent climate scientists by right-wing flacks. To connect to the topic of the post, “echo chamber” can be said to characterize any advocacy group to some extent, but I think it would be missing any useful argument to do that (It would be pretty easy to pull a fast one that way – i.e. to fallaciously argue that smears are advocacy, all political groups do advocacy, so smears are just like arguments because both smears and arguments are advocacy. That sounds ludicrous put so simply, but a bit of rhetorical craft could hide the bad logic).

    Look at it this way – David’s gotten in trouble in the past when he’s made a truth-gaffe about the vagueness of the phrase “Net Neutrality”, which shows the limits in one direction. But, in the other direction, he’s not going to personally attack you as standard operating procedure. While it’s *possible* he could get angry at you and lash out, he’s not going to maliciously encourage his readers and followers to “get” you in order to whip them up emotionally in an us-vs-them feeling with you as the target. I believe that’s a significant difference.

  11. You don’t see the Berkman Center using character assassination? You must not have looked. They attack Internet service providers. This is, essentially, what Crawford’s entire talk this evening — which they hosted and ballyhooed — was about. Zittrain did it in his own book. And Benkler does it in paper after paper.

  12. Oh, and you might notice that while Crawford brands all ISPs and telecommunications providers as “robber barons,” she conveniently neglects the biggest monopolist and robber baron of them all: Google. How convenient; let’s attempt to distract the public from the real evil.

    Again, Harvard should be ashamed. It’s being disgraced.

  13. There’s a world of difference between “Internet service providers”, and “Brett Glass is (insert vicious personal mudslinging here)”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone at the Berkman Center has done that to you (being on opposite sides of an economic policy argument is not the same thing, so please don’t give me the stock complaint there).

    Compare all the phony investigations that the climate scientists have been dragged through.

  14. Crawford is doing vicious personal mudslinging against every ISP in the business. And lying, to boot, about the market. She even told bald faced lies to Congress.

  15. Sigh. I give up. Both you and I have been subjected to enough A-lister dishonest flaming at times, that I’d hope the difference between political campaign rhetoric and the politics of character assassination, would be clear.

  16. Sorry, Seth; in this case, one involves the other.

    I spoke at Harvard two years ago, in a vain attempt to appeal to the consciences of the people at Berkman who were (and are!) being paid by Google to attack and destroy my livelihood and harm my customers and my community. (it was useless; they were bought.) David Weinberger came to me at a Christmas reception after the talk and implored me not to reveal corporate shills such as Susan Crawford for what they were. (He mentioned Susan by name, perhaps because — again — she is a particularly daring and shameless liar and therefore a darling of the Google lobbying crowd.) Like many lobbyists, he claimed that to call a spade a spade or to speak the truth would be uncivil.

    The fact is that I’ve been very polite — certainly more polite than would be expected when my business and the rural customers it serves are under direct threat by a corrupt corporation and its intellectually dishonest lackies.

    I’ve continued my activism, online and in person, at great personal cost because it MATTERS. As they say, for evil to triumph it is sufficient for good men to do nothing.

  17. Seth, thanks for trying. You have reached the point in trying to respond to Brett that I reached a couple of years ago.

    Now to go against my own hard-won experience, here’s a response to one particularly galling misrepresentation in Brett’s most recent comment –although I’m certain it’s a sincere representation of Brett’s construal of that incident.

    After we invited Brett to talk at the Berkman Center — he gave a well-attended talk and was treated with respect and seriousness — it happened that there was the annual Law School holiday party. At that event, I implored Brett to talk with people like Susan ) because Brett and people like her (including me) have so much in common on the policy side. We all would love to see a vibrant marketplace of ISPs, instead of the concentration of power and money in the hands of a few mega-ISPs. We would love to see an easing of restrictions so that local ISPs could have access to broadband trunks. We would love to see the Brand X decision undone. I personally would be happy to see an easing of Net Neutrality requirements at the application level for ISPs offering relatively low bandwidth; I don’t know how feasible that would be, or what the unintended consequences might be, but I’d love to hear a discussion of it.

    I most assuredly did not “implore” Brett “not to reveal corporate shills such as Susan Crawford.” I implored him to find common cause where possible.

  18. David, I must take issue with some of the things you say above. Susan Crawford, at the behest of her patron Google, is not lobbying for competition. Rather, at every turn (including in her book) she is falsely and harmfully claiming that there is no competition… GAME OVER. And that, therefore, there should be stringent, stifling regulation that would put my company and all other competitive providers out of business, leaving a regulated monopoly or duopoly. Conveniently, this regulation would be carried out by agencies which have undergone regulatory capture by Google. Susan clearly cares not one whit about the public interest; she is interested in bringing about this dystopian future by intentionally misrepresenting and lying about the present.

    I was physically present, in the room, when Susan made her false claim that competition did not exist to a Congressional subcommittee — committing the crime of lying to Congress. When another witness on the panel, who had noticed my presnce, pointed out that there was a competitive ISP in the room, Susan didn’t blink; she continued to spout the lie that had just been debunked. What could possibly be more disingenuous?

    It would be tragic were the Brand X decision to be “undone,” because it would further Google’s (and Susan’s) agenda by subjecting my small company to unbearable regulation and bureaucratic micromanagement. (The so-called “network neutrality” regulations — which, among other things, are intended prevent ISPs from charging content providers like Google for the loads they place on networks — are just one example. They are not neutral at all, and attempt to dictate ISPs’ business models in a way that advantages Google.)

    It is not possible or desirable to make common cause with someone who has clearly shown that she will stoop to the most egregious lies to promote the fortunes of a corporate benefactor. This applies not only to Susan but to Zittrain, Lessig, and any and all of the other de facto Google lobbyists who now populate Google’s little lobbying shop at Harvard.

  19. Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful information particularly the last part :) I care for such information much. I was seeking this particular info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

Web Joho only

Comments (RSS).  RSS icon