News Mood Filter Web Extension

A News Mood Filter Web Extension is under construction by some concerned hackers; the idea is to mute unpleasant stories from the news.


(Prototype News Mood Filter Web Extension)

News Mood Filter Web Extension is a project close to Alicia's heart. She's been working on it in her 10% time after she and others collaborated to make a static version of it in a hackday about technology and mental health last year. In a team with two opinionated producers, we wanted to make sure her voice was clearly heard in the sprint, so she became the project lead, to be consulted on all decisions.

Alicia Grandjean: "Digital wellbeing, and more precisely the relation between news and anxiety, is something I am very interested in. I really think that we can create simple tools to give control back to users to allow them to engage with news in the way that is most appropriate for them."

16-24 year-olds are very aware of their mental health and take steps to improve it, including digital detoxing and removing notifications from apps; but news avoidance is also a more general problem. From a recent survey by Reuters of all age-groups, 32% of respondents worldwide say they actively avoid the news.

Science fiction writers have been hard at work thinking about this problem for decades. I was thinking in particular of the adjustable television from Philip K Dick's 1964 novel The Simulacra:

He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better in the dire droning-on of the speech... however, no change took place. Too many other viewers had their own ideas as to what the old man ought to be saying...

Frederik Pohl directly anticipated the idea of a filtered news feed in his 1966 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot; see this article on the interests profile. Also, Robert Heinlein used the idea of a news filter on a television in his 1941 novel Methuselah's Children; see the article on the newsbox.

Via bbc.

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