Zuckerman: A digital public needs a digital public infrastructure


Ethan Zuckerman of MIT Media Lab draws on history to lay out a future-looking case for the deliberate construction of digital infrastructure that serves the information and engagement needs of citizens in a democracy.

Here’s an excerpt from his TL;DR summary on Medium:

“Social media is often not very good for us as citizens in a democracy. That shouldn’t surprise us, as it wasn’t designed to be a space for civic discourse — it was designed to capture our attention and our personal data for use in targeting ads. If we wanted media that was good for democratic societies, we’d need to build tools expressly designed for those goals.

“Those tools probably won’t make money, and won’t challenge Facebook’s dominance. That’s okay. The current state of the online world is the result of market failure: there’s tools and services we need for a democratic society to function that markets won’t pay for, which means we need to decide to pay for those services via taxpayer dollars or voluntary contributions.”

Zuckerman is a longtime Knight grantee.