A group of different sized colorful balls floating through 5 shelves.

Mini discoveries from our work with media

After wrapping our 2-year health equity narratives project with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation earlier this year, we immediately dove into a new set of exciting projects. We’re researching narratives about things like climate change, immigrants in the U.S., web3 gaming, education, and more, and getting a better understanding of the relationships that audiences have with stories in these spaces. This work will be public soon–but not just yet.

In the meantime, our work exposes us to the far-reaching expanse of the media landscape every single day. We’re sharing some of our favorite things here, sorted by our core areas of focus—science, data, and creativity. (Plus, a few bonus links just for fun.)

We Are … SCIENCE

  • Inaccurate narratives of evolution pervade science, medicine, education, and mainstream media—many of which are are rooted in racist, sexist, and Western-centric biases. This piece explores how racist and sexist depictions of human evolution can, and have, perpetuated systemic biases into future generations.
  • Hyperbolic messaging used in major media can have damaging and lasting effects on the communities about which the news is reporting. Discussed here is how the widespread language used to describe children being poisoned by water in Flint, Michigan—referring to many as having lasting “brain damage”—has caused a residual effect of teachers (and students) considering these children as “incapable of learning.”

We Are … DATA

  • Collecting information on race and ethnicity meets a complex and nuanced past: German researchers grapple with the ethics of surveying people about their race and ethnicity via census data, often citing data-protection concerns (similar to other countries across Europe). But this can, allegedly, make it difficult to measure quantitative success on diversity issues, explored in this piece from Nature.

  • We were intrigued by a piece on Medium from “Jenka” about the “American bias” of AI. Artificial intelligence trained by datasets built upon false visual narratives about an American “smile-focused culture” can present a universality that scrubs over cultural differences across expression and meaning.

We Are … CREATIVITY

  • If we ever thought we had a good work ethic, sci-fi author Adrian Tchaikovsky puts us all to shame with his 49 (!) published novels. He was recently interviewed by Ezra Klein about the “profoundly scary” relationship that human creativity has with the current AI explosion (oh, and spiders).

  • The “AI panic” has quieted the conversation about web3 lately, but this article from Rolling Stone revisits the vision that there might be a new internet on the horizon, one that could level the playing field for communities created via gaming.

Bonus Links!

  • Can tech actually help us become more human? This piece from Noēma explores how using digital technology to find sounds from whales, honeybees, forests, etc. that human ears cannot detect might bring us closer to the nonhuman world around us and, in turn, ourselves.

  • America’s most popular form of transport is the passenger vehicle–but only 5.8% percent sold last year were electric. This piece in The Atlantic presents for your consideration: the electric rickshaw. Although the American highway system poses a challenge for smaller e-alternatives like e-bikes and micro cars, the electric rickshaw might be a useful starting point for a car replacement.

If you encountered something head-turning or thumb-stopping in your media diets recently, please share! In the meantime, stay close as we wrap up some of our current projects and release our research findings to the public (in new, inventive, interactive ways) – and don’t hesitate to get in touch to share any thoughts or ideas.

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