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Media, technology, politics, and saving the world in various combinations — Chief Strategist at Harmony Labs— author of For ALL the People

What The US Constitution can teach us about reforming modern media

This week, the Facebook Oversight Board (the pseudo-independent, pseudo-judiciary body created by Facebook) upheld Facebook’s decision to indefinitely ban former President Trump from the platform. But in their letter to the company explaining their decision, they practically demanded that the company assess the principles and processes it uses to govern these kinds of decisions. Despite Facebook’s motivational poster rhetoric that “Nothing at Facebook is somebody else’s problem” (these posters are everywhere on its campus), The board correctly recognized that one of the major problems with Facebook is that it doesn’t seem to want the kind of responsibility that its role…

Originally published on 7 Bridges

Much has been made and much ink has been spilled over Jason Fried’s team memo at Basecamp last week asserting new cultural values and direction for the company. Rightly, most of the attention has been focused on the first declaration that “societal and political discussions” are banned from the company Basecamp account. There’s a lot to engage with here and the generational aspect and the personal discomfort lens to the conflict has been surfaced already by many others, so for the sake of weekend brevity (not usually my strong suit), I’m going to focus in…

If political parties provided what conspiracy theories do, maybe our parties would be stronger and more useful to our civic life.

Originally published on 7 Bridges

Humans need community to survive — belonging is safety, and meaning is direction. Without either, community withers, and we die. While modern society has put all kinds of pressures on community, the pandemic has all but eliminated our weak ties (hopefully temporarily) and left all of us feeling to a greater or lessor degree at sea, untethered, alone, uncertain of our place in the world. Not only do we rely more on those weak ties than we typically think, they are often our bridges to other communities. …

Like all chick-or-the-egg arguments, what matters most is where we go from here.

Originally published on 7 Bridges

The intentions of America’s founders and the framers of our constitution still matter. They were animated by profound ideals, however imperfectly implemented, that resonate and provide essential, useful direction today. But when it comes to guns, I no longer care what the founders thought.

I’m tired of debating that comma, the definition of “militia”, and the meaning of “well-regulated”.

I’m tired of the claim that gun ownership is an absolute right.

I’m tired of the posture that reform is impossible.

What I care about is the kind of country and kind of society we want…

Solving our information crisis requires more than one solution because there is more than one problem

This article is part of a series of thinking examining modern media and our civic life including my new book For ALL the People out now.

Originally published on 7 Bridges

Margaret Sullivan — the brilliant and thoughtful media columnist for The Washington Post — wrote last weekend about how to start undermining Fox News by pressuring their biggest advertisers. Nicholas Kristof picked up the baton this week saying, “the problem with Fox isn’t that it’s conservative but that it monetizes conspiracy theories and disinformation in ways that are sometimes lethal.” …

Smart, thoughtful people have been showing us the way to a more complete conversation about modern media and civic life for decades . It’s time we listen.

This article is part of a series of thinking examining modern media and our civic life including my new book For ALL the People coming Feb 23, 2021.

Originally published on 7 Bridges

The weeks since the election have revealed in stark relief the civic crisis America faces. It has also brought into the mainstream a conversation about the civic and social dangers of greater connectivity, of the evolution and expansion of media, and the rise and mainstreaming of mis/disinformation that has been happening and been studied for decades. …

A new study reveals that verified users on Twitter are sharing more deceptive information than ever

This article is part of a series of thinking examining modern media and our civic life including my new book For ALL the People coming Feb 23, 2021.

Originally published on 7 Bridges

As more and more public conversation emerges to examine and explore our media systems and how they are serving and (too often) not serving society, we need to develop more precision in talking about what we’re talking about.

Yesterday, Axios published an article glossing a new study from German Marshall Fund about sharing content from deceptive websites that reveals that verified accounts on Twitter have shared more…

If Trump was a symptom, it’s time to get to work on the dis-ease

For fours years we have been stuck in a bilious, amoral national haze driven by a leader disinterested in leadership and offended by the idea of service. Opposition and resistance were the watchwords on the Left from the day of his election. On the Right, the reality has finally sunk in for an ever-increasing chorus in the closing days of his time in power that supporting a President who has proven to be both disinterested in governing and unable to be corralled by better public servants (John Kelly et. al.) has reintroduced political violence to American politics. The response to…

Our national civic health needs justice every bit as much as our public health needs the vaccine.

This article is part of a series of thinking examining modern media and our civic life including my new book For ALL the People coming Feb 23, 2021.

The Obama Administration came into office during a historic crisis. Avoiding a global depression became the justification for all decisions and political risk calculus. And in the chaos of crisis, holding people accountable and reforming systems and regulations that created the crisis took a backseat, and justice for the millions of Americans harmed by greed and exploitation was set aside for the sake of the recovery. …

Humans are insufficient containers for magic. There’s nothing wrong with us: we have just always needed the strengthening, the tempering, the resilience learned from suffering and survival to prepare us for work with the divine. To be a conduit for creativity. To be in the presence of the eternal. To hold fire. To bring the great transformations of the universe to be.

2020 was uncertain, unexpected, and unrelenting. Cruel, heartbreaking, and both necessary and unnecessary. While we say goodbye on the calendar, it will spill its uncertainty and cruelty for too many into 2021. …

Michael Slaby

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