First, ask Alexa to activate the Random Local News skill.
Then, every time you ask Alexa for your Flash Briefing, it'll play a news summary from a random place in the US.
Increasingly, our most ubiquitous technologies have been upending the original premise of the internet. Instead of exposing us to a greater humanity, our ostensibly worldwide networks have only made us more insular. Opaque algorithms only show us posts and articles they think we’ll like — or at least, on which we’ll click “like.” Far from nudging us to widen our perspectives, the internet tempts our most tribalistic tendencies to associate only with people whose values and views hew closest to ours.
Discussions about this pernicious digital parochialism were reinvigorated after the 2016 presidential election laid bare its perils. This project is my first small contribution to the upswell of efforts aiming to burst our filter bubbles.
Perhaps, by hearing slivers of news from around the country—deliberately non-personalized and unfiltered—we can gain a wider and deeper understanding of our nation. “Democracy works only if we citizens are capable of thinking beyond our narrow self-interest,” as Eli Pariser wrote in his seminal work, The Filter Bubble. “But to do so, we need a shared view of the world we cohabit. We need to come into contact with other people’s lives and needs and desires.” In our Balkanized digital media landscape, I hope this can be one oasis of cohesion and serendipity.