Martian Thoughts

Random freedom


In the age of the echo chamber, we should rethink best practices.

To this effect, I’ve recently subscribed to a monthly magazine and committed to reading it front to back – every article. Naturally, I have a personal interest in the dominant themes – otherwise, I wouldn’t have considered the subscription – but at least half of the contents involve topics I would never have sought out on my own. I am certain no algorithm would have pushed them to my feed either.

By subscribing to a curated publication, I give up part of my decision-making about what I consume. In turn, the practice opens my eyes to issues and views I’m unfamiliar with. I am suddenly aware of problems other people have, matters that concern them, and their impact on the world we all share.

Algorithms could randomise what we pay attention to in an intelligent and unbiased manner. Of course, we all know they do the opposite: they feed us more of what we already like – or abhor – and, if anything, refine the contents to their purest possible expression and lowest common denominator.

Taking back (some) control is not as hard as we may imagine. The content is out there. The tools are within reach.

Random is available to all of us. Random has never been so needed. Random is freedom.