Introduction (adapted from a longer first post)

In everyday commerce as well as civic life, we are evolving an astounding ability to compile a robust body  of intelligence about the personal life, interests and views of each and every person who uses digital content and applications. This involves both mundane and confidential information — knowing the occupations and ages of a household, the brands of clothing they wear and the drugs they consume, their interactions with friends and what subjects they discuss, their incomes and their voting patterns. With this knowledge, we are collectively honing our skills at targeting each person or group of people with a custom set of products, services and communication messages.

In many instances, this ability to closely match marketing or messaging to your past or current profile of behavior, consumption or beliefs may create value for you. It can be a great shortcut so you are not bombarded with items that are irrelevant to your life. It can allow vendors and service providers to quickly offer you the most attractive array of choices given your tastes.

But in this intensifying frenzy of ultra-customization and micro-targeting of audiences, there are arguably some situations where we actually create problems or prevent people from getting what they need or want or what would be most valuable to them.

We may not always want our options limited to what we’ve used in the past, who we’ve gotten them from before, or even the way we’ve thought before.

This is the central subject of this blog — those situations where we want to be able to escape or avoid being drawn into an echo chamber.

We propose — with your help — to explore these situations. We intend to articulate what they are, and what problems they pose. We seek to explore what is known and how we might learn more. We aim to investigate ways to help marketers and consumers, messengers and audiences escape the chamber — and to effectively use our revolutionary new technologies when our goal is not to enclose people in their habits, but to enlarge their experiences and knowledge.

Along the way we expect to cover a wide range of topics. A common thread is considering how new technology and the particular ways they are applied in our modern media world do affect the views we form and the choices we make every day — and in some cases, how innovative new perspectives and approaches might serve all of us better.

Among our central interests will be how this dynamic plays out in the arena of politics and our democracy. But we will also include the broader and equally pervasive impact of digital media on consumer marketing, patterns of social interaction and other aspects of our lives.

This will include posing questions, citing interesting facts and noting the views of others as well as offering up our own stories, observations and analyses for your consumption. But the most important part of this is your insights, reactions and additional questions.

Please join us, and invite others to come here as well. I hope you’ll find the conversation we are beginning within these pages to be an important and helpful dialogue that could use more attention and thought from everyone who cares about where our society and economy is heading.

Brief Bio

I have a myriad of identities and interests, too long to itemize — among them are being a long-time tech policy wonk, management consultant & periodic entrepreneur/intrapr­­­eneur.  I’m currently interested in tech ventures that are tackling big challenges in digital media and new journalism…

Over the years I’ve enjoyed architecting major change initiatives and innovative ventures in a broad array of business, government and nonprofit organizations.  I’ve had a fair amount of luck doing so — spanning areas as diverse as managed health care service for poor inner-city communities and competitive broadband service for tech innovators.

I’d love to hear from you.


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