This week Tanya O’Carroll, Amnesty International’s Technology and Human Rights Project Officer gave a talk as a guest lecturer.
The question she posed to us was, “has social media helped people feel more empathy about what’s happening around the world or has it made people close themselves to the world by giving too much information?”
My first thought before answering her question was whether or not you can really find the “truth” about what’s going on in this world. For example in Japan, there are some people who have been tweeting about the “actual” danger level of radioactive contamination. Your stance towards radioactive contamination is a very tricky one, if you overlook food/land contamination, your health can be seriously damaged. However if you are in a way too cautious about them, your life can be seriously damaged, meaning, for example, by unnecessarily abandoning your business which took you years to establish in order to move out of a seemingly radioactively contaminated area.
Some of the people who have been tweeting about radioactivity in Japan seem extreme, being over cautious about it, some say everyone should move out of the entire islands of Japan immediately, some say move out of East Asia. Some say living in Tokyo is safe, some even say living in Fukushima is safe.
This is also related to the issues of citizen science last week, the accuracy and interpretation of data.
Another example of the inability to find “truth” is conspiracies. For example for 9/11 incident, you won’t be able to find the truth no matter how deep you dig into that matter. However this “truth” behind the incident determines the way people have empathy towards it. Here is another question, is having a false empathy a good thing or not?
My answer to Tanya’s question is, before being able to answer the question of whether you could know the “truth” of something, I will not be able to answer the question.
After that we tried Mozilla Popcorn Maker and Crowdmap