Missing the Point about the7th.us

Where the game of “gotcha” is totally missing the point: Addressing a few misconceptions and FAQs

Good news!

We have been pleased by the reception of the7th.us so far, and we are heartened by all of the interest and questions we have gotten since our first article!

We would like to provide some clarification around a few misleading claims. Though it has not happened terribly often, we have infrequently gotten comments accusing us of being secret liberals, closet conservatives, still hopeful Hillary supporters, all out on the Trump train, and most bewilderingly “anti discussion.” Our response to these breathless accusations remains what it has always been:

THEY ARE ENTIRELY MISSING THE POINT

THE POINT:
 The point is that by creating a platform that distributes power more equitably amongst the users, it makes it harder for any one opinion, limited perspective, or cherry picked evidence to dominate the entire discussion.

It also makes it more difficult for inadvertent or express censorship to occur, and it is harder for anyone to post a single, limited, agenda driven version of the facts that dominates the discussion and shapes everyone’s perceptions while keeping them largely unaware or ignorant of other important context and facts surrounding the issue at hand. Our mission (to make a platform that accomplishes the goal of enabling more context, fact driven, multi faceted conversations online) extends beyond any few comments we might make or individual biases that we might have. We are building the platform so that ultimately, these biases will matter much less as discussions take shape.

In other words, what we are developing goes beyond our individual political positions, biases, whether or not we voted, or any of our other inclinations. We are building a user-directed platform that makes it easier for people to make observations, post opinions, relevant facts and context. You, the users, decide what counts as relevant facts, context, opinions, topics, and data. We at the7th.us do not tell you what to think, personally decide what is important, or attempt to force agreement. We just make it easier for relevant facts and context to rise to the top of the discussion and to allow for multiple viewpoints to be seen, regardless of how many followers any particular user might have. We have a simple belief, as do many of you, that the loudest voices are not always the best ones. However, on the internet, it is often the loudest voices that dominate. We are building a platform that allows for less emphasis on the opinions of the most vocal and/or extreme users in favor of better information that is not instantly polarized (remember that the internet is making us more narrow minded?)

AREN’T YOU ANTI JOURNALISM, ISN’T THAT DANGEROUS?

Before we answer that, consider what this CBS journalist had to say about journalism in its current form:

The state of modern journalism:

“[Modern Journalism] is a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing.”

In referring to how journalism works online:

[It’s] a system where people who dissent from the proper framing of a story are attacked by mobs of smugly incredulous pundits. Journalists exist primarily in a world where people can get shouted down and disappear, which informs our attitudes toward all disagreement.
We have to stop writing these know-it-all, 140-character sermons on social media and admit that, as a class, journalists have a shamefully limited understanding of the country we cover.
What’s worse, we don’t make much of an effort to really understand, and with too few exceptions, treat the economic grievances of Middle America like they’re some sort of punchline.
We have to fix this, and the broken reasoning behind it. There’s a fleeting fun to gang-ups and groupthink. But it’s not worth what we are losing in the process.

On the media ‘getting it wrong’ with greater frequency:

That the explainers and data journalists so frequently get things hilariously wrong never invites the soul-searching you’d think it would. Instead, it all just somehow leads us to more smugness, more meanness, more certainty from the reporters and pundits. Faced with defeat, we retreat further into our bubble, assumptions left unchecked.
As a direct result, we [the media] get it wrong with greater frequency. Out on the road, we forget to ask the right questions. We can’t even imagine the right question. We go into assignments too certain that what we find will serve to justify our biases. The public’s estimation of the press declines even further — fewer than one-in-three Americans trust the press, per Gallup — which starts the cycle anew.

We at the7th.us are not anti-media, but we recognize that there are problems in journalism that are now being amplified online. It is silly to equate recognizing the deep problems within media with being anti free press. It is even more disturbing to imply that media claims should go unchallenged, simply because they came from the media.

Like the CBS journalist, the7th.us realizes that the media is often out of touch and can easily (inadvertently or purposely) improperly frame a story or miss facts to devastating effect. Rather than wring our hands about the problem, we decided to build features into our platform that can mitigate the effects of slanted stories on our platform.

In this way, the7th.us will also act as an organic “brass check” on irresponsible stories and allow for more accurate representation of the people that the media does not understand. Check out Upton Sinclair’s “The Brass Check” is you are not familiar with the reference. His work is still very relevant today.

Right, so what about YOUR TONE?

As we promote our platform, we reserve the right to be provocative, to post uncomfortable facts, and to be downright flippant. We are simply trying to raise awareness about what we are trying to build, something many, many people do here on medium. As any organization does, we are often testing messages to see what people respond to, and what they value to see how we can best position ourselves. Again, even if you don’t agree with how we choose to deliver our message on a particular occasion, or think that you perceive some sort of bias, it still does not in any way change what the platform we are trying to build accomplishes, which is that, when a conversation occurs, a few voices do not and cannot completely dominate what people see, hiding important information that could influence their decisions or perception. We promised to build an independent software platform that supports this goal and that de-emphasizes the most extreme voices in the conversation, not to force agreements, be “Glinda the Goody Two Shoes Grandma Good witch” forcing agreements, or to maintain an award winning medium publication. We’d never make much impact if the entire point was to simply “host a discussion and ask people to be nice to one another.” If it were that simple, the problem that we are addressing would have been solved a long time ago. And ultimately, the problem we are trying to solve is a technological one that has been compounded by other forces. If what we were trying to do were not a current, outstanding issue, then the term “echo chamber” would not exist. So, please put the pitchforks down. And consider how well existing platforms, with a long record of instant polarization, censorship, isolation of viewpoints, and over emphasis on personal ego, have served us before shooting down a nascent startup trying to build technology to address these issues because of its “tone.”

For example, something that should be more upsetting is that Mark Zuckerberg calls people that trust Facebook with their information “dumb f*cks:”

And Facebook has been caught running experiments to manipulate user emotions.

And we won’t even talk about privacy. Might be good to have an option that diffuses some of this behavior.

Ok, that all makes sense, but what about that gofundme, and where is your venture capital?

Ever wonder why the most popular VC show is called “shark tank?”

Many of you noticed that in our first article, we included a link to our gofundme page. Here’s why: Some people understand our mission, really believe in it, and wanted to give- so we created a gofundme to allow them that opportunity. And for the record, it has raised a staggering sum: 210 dollars over 2 weeks. Not exactly the best scam, and certainly not worth all of the time and effort responding to questions and creating posts to clarify our technology platform. 
Quite frankly, there are much better ways to scam people or to simply make more money, much more quickly, than by openly including a gofundme link on 1 single medium article. (We could, at the very least, be constantly pressuring people to give, and we have barely emphasized that.) If we happen to raise a significant amount of capital, then we will use it to hire an additional developer or two to ensure a smoother, more stable release of our product.

What about VC?

We have addressed that here. Please enjoy!

Again, ultimately, our goal is to give more power to YOU the users, not to the staff of the7th.us, to any one media outlet, to any small group of users, or to VCs. The users in aggregate have ultimate control over the discussions and the platform is optimized so that everyone participating can more easily get a fuller, more contextualized view of the discussion around any given topic of interest.

THE TAKEAWAY?

We now believe in our mission more than ever, because the past weeks have proven how much people would like to see what we’re doing come to fruition, They’ve also proven how how easy it is for an observation with limited evidence, context, and insight to easily dominate the narrative and to hide other, more important and relevant information.

Please do not hesitate to politely ask any questions below, and here is our original article if you have not yet read it:

It is now more important than ever that the entire story gets out. We hope you’ll like and recommend this article so people can see it here on medium.

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