Top-down power: Hierarchies thrive on the internet

The internet was built to resist an Orwellian future. Now it's being weaponized.

  • Research shows hierarchical groups are more likely to use the internet as a platform.
  • This might be counterintuitive, as the original rise of the internet coincided with events like the toppling of top-down structures.
  • Despite the strong belief that the internet is horizontal, these hierarchical systems achieve high levels of online participation.
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Think you're right? How to test yourself in the battle of ideas.

Our opponents' objections to our ideas often contain insight as to how we can better refine them.

  • When we're convinced in the truth of our ideas, we often believe if we just explain it to others that others will immediately come onboard with them. However, what we see in practice is that we need some resistance from others to help refine those ideas. In doing so, we make them more marketable in the marketplace of ideas.
  • When we have debates, we have to not censor our opponents. We have to be confident enough to have discussions with them aimed at getting at the truth.
  • When we prohibit the expression of ideas, we lose the chance to prove our ideas right — we lose the chance to advance their legitimacy in the court of public opinion.
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Open academic culture, more crucial than ever, is in peril

Why campuses are becoming polarized — and what we can do about it.

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  • The narrowing of academic freedom is a major problem for institutions of higher education.
  • Social media, external pressures, and increasingly diverse student bodies — while providing some positives — create more opportunity for misunderstanding and miscommunication.
  • Reaffirming the value of and commitment to open debate ensures a more vibrant academic culture.
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How has the internet splintered our democracy?

To solve the problem of negative digital disruption, technologies of the future must overcome the inequalities of today.

  • The intention of the internet was not to threaten democracy, but it's becoming clear that's exactly what it's doing.
  • To fix this problem, we must broaden the scope — politically, socially, and culturally — of who has power and governance over our digital technologies.
  • The most vulnerable communities should be involved in a solution that can coexist with Silicon Valley.

Beyond the Valley: How Innovators around the World are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow (The MIT Press)


Want to improve your office? Stop being so bossy.

A variety of structures exist to both treat employees with more respect and increase productivity.

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  • People love freedom but spend most of their day in a place where they are devoid of power, at work.
  • There are a variety of ways to organize an enterprise that give workers influence over the workplace.
  • Studies have found time and again that giving workers dignity, influence, and decent conditions pays off.
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