Information: what’s next?

FINK CONTENT
5 min readApr 12, 2021

A brief analysis of the future (s) of information.

Author: Dimas Henkes

We live in a current avalanche of information where we have the quantity, but not necessarily the quality we want. The future of information is uncertain precisely because we have many paths to follow, and the only sure thing is that the revolution is knocking on our door (or on our ass?) And the main challenge is to make it more accessible, democratic and connected.

A hot topic today is personalized information. Consumers want customized content in their inboxes. Who remembers the newspaper sessions? In addition to general news, there were segments of culture, politics, sports and other niches. Consumers can choose their favourite topics written and created by people who look like them and receive targeted curation in a newsletter format or search and follow a podcast. Less is more. People consume what they identify with and seek more and more the feeling of belonging to the common thought community. Women want to hear women talking about politics, and teenagers want to read young people talking about music. We can still deepen these choices in terms of ethnicity, gender and all possible points of representativeness.

Keep an eye out: online radio is booming all over the world. In Brazil, the Veneno radio has a program 24 hours a day / 7 days a week with interviews, DJ sets and special programs to bring together all the scenes. Segmented, democratic, and niche information flows freely in these virtual spaces and is open for co-creators to add to their curatorial points of view.

Jorge Rico, co-founder or Veneno Radio

In addition to segmentation, there is a (re) return of local information. The large public in several countries, including Brazil, is consuming more and more local news that talks about their region, city or even the neighbourhood itself, creating a kind of information with a sense of belonging in the community. This movement is causing large companies, such as Globo, to rethink strategies with their affiliates not to waste time in the race. The market guided by globalization is reshaping itself in this dance of chairs and is losing totalitarian information, decentralizing news sources. Thinking local is necessary; acting glocal is crucial.

Following the same logic of these segments, decentralised information uses other means to disseminate news and retain consumers. Transmission list on WhatsApp and Telegram is an effective and high-speed tool for triggering any news, be it true or false. In Brazil there are pages on Instagram like Matinal that send daily local news via WhatsApp to those who register on the list. In politics, one of the most famous cases is the channels on the Telegram of the Bolsonaro clan that quickly create, amplify and change narratives.

Image released with the phrase “our weapon is the vaccine” with the aim to go viral, shortly after former president Lula spoke questioning the current president Jair Bolsonaro on the vacine.

Are these segmented and regional changes good or bad? We do not know. The world is not binary, and the response is fluid; there are many points to be analysed to choose a conscious and intelligent path. These changes can generate polarization of ideas. A newscast in a small community can amplify fake news without the serious compromise that large corporations have (or should have). And social networks are sabotaging us without creating an AI tool that checks facts (whether the social network is open [post on Instagram] or closed [WhatsApp conversations]). A new study in the United States has shown, with data, that people can identify whether a news item is false or true but choose to share (even though it is wrong) because it reinforces their political vision. Controlling the flow of misinformation is one of the biggest challenges today. There is an agreement between the big techs called “Code of Practice” for self-regulation of fake news, but local, personalized information is years away from signing or even being interested in this type of agreement.

The path of connected information democracy is a possible heterotopy. Foucault analyses utopia as an unreal space, and heterotopia reveals the possibility of the two places (fake and real) incorporated in the same space. In other words, it is necessary to dream and act to make it happen in the here and now. The construction of characters with different views to humanize the news provides a greater receptivity to opposing ideas and benefits the diversity of thoughts. Should journalists be the new influencers? Or are the creators of Instagrammable content the new journalists? When we talk about information democracy, we need to remember that reading and understanding information — especially in countries like Brazil — is an obstacle to social segmentation because there is a vast difference between technological development and social underdevelopment.

And we get to the point I wanted: generation Z consumes news on TikTok in just 1 minute, with an entertainment format. That’s the challenging recipe for success on the Chinese social network. With a different relation of algorithms, young people can amplify ideals with more agility and a sense of humour. Who remembers the boycott of the Donald Trump rally in Oklahoma? Some journalists have already figured out how to participate in conversations, point out facts, and share opinions surfing trends in the ByteDance app’s challenges.

Journalist Ian McKenna (nowthispolitics) was already working on news creation for up to 3 minutes and understood that it could be reduced to up to 60 seconds. Its content brings a diversity of conversations based on the agility and interest of the young audience. For him, the tool’s potential is to remember essential speeches and facts and make basic figures take responsibility for something they said or did. In addition to McKenna, there is the teenager Jackie James (fatraco0n), who summarizes political issues simply and authentically with all the interface tools: from duets to pumping challenges. On the other hand, there is also the profile of Dave Jorgenson (washingtonpost), who shares more traditional news in fun formats.

In the 90s, Manuel Castells, global reference as researcher of the information society, said:

“in the information age, the main logic of the predominant global networks is so diffuse and penetrating, that the only way to get rid of their domain seems to be to stay out of them and reconstruct meaning based on an entirely different system of values and beliefs “.

We are facing the information revolution and, only now, it seems that we have the opportunity to rebuild a new system. It is possible. Today we certainly have more power to choose conscious news consumption.The crisis is now, and the future belongs to our next steps.

Thanks Dimas Henkes for allowing me the translation of your text!

Ana B. @ finkcontent.com

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