SOAS Master's Research
"Doubt" in News and Information Filtering:
The Human, the Media, the Algorithm

Today, more people, than ever before, have the opportunity to publish to a global audience. And I, in an attempt to digest the growing onslaught of content, inevitably rely on filterers in the hope of comprehension. In the Internet Age, one of these filterers are the information distributors who manage the visibility of voices as they deliver a stream of content to our so-called “personalized” feeds.

They perform an act, a task, which has carried philosophical import much before their introduction to today’s social fabric. How I, as an individual, filter through life is not just a question of which news I read. It is a process that I conduct every moment of my life, a process of organization and sensemaking through the infinite flux of my environment. How I conduct this process and how I should conduct this process is a question that has rattled the brains of philosophizing humans much before me. Never quite settled, many heralded the necessity of an elusive yet attainable quality: the capacity for doubt.

 

The unceasing questions about filtering and doubt have been reincarnated in the algorithmic dimension. As platforms and publishers debate and demur the techniques of online curation in the digital era, I champion a theoretical meditation on the concept of doubt, its integral place in human and social filtering frameworks, and its potential scaffolding in an age where deciding what comes first on our news feeds hold newfound power.

If you would like to read a full version of my academic dissertation or a more general-audience version of it, please just ask.