Perspective: Contacts to Correct Internet Myopia

January 7, 2014 06:11 PM
Perspective: Contacts to Correct Internet Myopia

Read opposing views and reap the benefits

Researchers have documented how Internet use has evolved. The ever-expanding range of sites and information has not encouraged exploration of new sources, but the opposite: we repeatedly visit the same sites. The result is cognitive closure, which refers to exclusively using information sources that confirm existing beliefs.

Many sites display information that we will likely find reassuring. Farmers end up reading market
narratives and "all-farm-all-the-time" news analyses that reinforce a narrow world view. Meanwhile, we remain unaware of vast bodies of useful information, much of which can deliver nasty surprises to our farms.

In addition to sites you like to visit, pick one or two a day outside of your favorites. Below is a list of sites I visit. Google the name, follow the link and bookmark them to widen your perspective. Fighting cognitive closure is hard. This is just one way to address the factionalizing of our culture and policy, as well as widen our early warning system. 

Information Aggregators

  • Arts & Letters Daily: This is not as snooty as it sounds, and it has enormous range. Be sure to check out the Nota Bene posts first.
  • The Browser: This might be the very best general information aggregator.
  •  Drudge: It comprises sloppy journalism, strong right bias and remarkable speed and post rate.
  •  Google News: Personalize your news like "farm." Get what you want and exclude what you don’t.
  • MetaFilter: This is a community blog with links covering all aspects of human experience. It has a very high post rate but can be a severe time drain.
  • Project Syndicate: It contains superb op-eds, economics and finance opinion from experts.
  • Quartz: It delivers high-quality business news and analysis. Many pieces are advertorials from sponsors but are nonetheless well written.

  •  SciTech Daily: This delivers a full range of science-based information.

Blogs and Websites

  •  Daily Dish: Andrew Sullivan is astonishingly prolific (10-15 posts per day). Get informed commentary from current events to pets. This is adult content.
  •  farmdoc daily: Get the latest ag economics reports. Many popular ag sites repackage their work.
  • This blog doesn’t provide analysis, but it’s the best aggregator for ag policy news.
  • Felix Salmon: Visit this blog to start to understand happenings on Wall Street.
  •  Free Exchange: This is an economics blog from "The Economist." Check out their other blogs, too.
  •  Hit and Run: This blog features the best Libertarian writing. It’s politically exasperating for both left and right.
  • Marginal Revolution: Headed by economist Tyler Cowen, whose range of expertise is jaw-dropping, this blog even-handedly covers everything from food to economic policy to travel.
  •  Modern Farmer: Here, you’ll cross over into the world of agrarian and small farms.
  • Moneybox: Here you’ll primarily get economics, but it also includes good insights on policy and finance.
  • The Onion: This site spotlights some of the very best satire on the web. This is adult content.
  • The Rural Blog: This is actually an aggregator, but it provides great coverage of rural life with an emphasis on the mid-South.
  • Wonkblog: Here’s a wealth of information for policy junkies. It’s progressive leaning but solid fact-gathering.

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