One of the articles of my holiday-accumulated reading list was, given my current interest in the effects of digital media on cultural transmission and evolution (see here), Katherine Viner’s How technology disrupted the truth, a long read of the Guardian. The piece got extensive – and almost exclusively positive – attention (there are, when I write, 1,589 comments and around 64,000 shares). In fact, I found it quite hideous, and I believe it also embodies a widespread common-sense attitude towards digital technologies, and social media in particular, so I decided to write here some comments.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am beginning to collect some thoughts and materials for a project around the topic “Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age”. The goal of the exercise would be to investigate how new digital technologies change the process of cultural transmission and evolution, using methodological tools and ideas from cultural evolution theory (intended in a quite broad sense).
[I am starting to gather more systematically thoughts and materials about the topic “Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age”, including a twitter hashtag #CulturalEvolutionInTheDigitalAge where I plan to collect some recent – and less recent – papers, articles, discussions, etc. I hope to write at some point a more thorough introduction to this project. For now, here some extemporaneous reflections on the echo chambers phenomenon]
The annual conferences of the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) are usually cultural evolution-friendly. Same goes for this year: the conference will be held next week at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. All talks are in fact very relevant, but here a selection of the titles more explicitly related to cultural evolution, in chronological order (the full booklet can be downloaded here). It may give a reasonably good idea of what is currently happening in the field – with perhaps some Eurocentric bias.
A paper I wrote together with Claudio Tennie has just been published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology. The role of redundant information in cultural transmission and cultural stabilization presents an individual-based model of the following, quite straightforward, idea (which was, admittedly, Claudio’s idea).