As an invention that can go down in human history, the Internet has never ceased to be controversial since its birth. With the development of technology and cultural progress, this platform that carries hundreds of millions of users, just like a primitive society formed from scratch, has given birth to its history, economy, culture and order. Although it has an entirely different form of communication from the traditional platform, as long as its users are composed of human beings, it is inevitable that the culture derived from it will map out the epitome of various human qualities. In human society, diversity has always been a topic that cannot be escaped from mainstream media. It is because of the existence of diversity in the world that the definition of many positive words, such as “beauty” and “success”, has become less homogeneous. Everyone is given the right to pursue their dreams. However, this has not been a sustainable vision. As time grows, diversity in all areas is not always maintained positively(Nicholas, 2009). In this paper, it will start with the causes of the lack of diversity on the Internet, and discuss the effects on the future development of the Internet, the shaping of individual users’ minds, and the shaping of society’s values, so that argue that the lack of diversity on Internet platforms is a phenomenon that needs to be taken seriously and addressed.
The node-to-node computer was invented in a research lab at UCLA on October 29, 1969 （Mowery & Simcoe, 2002). From then until today, the identity of the U.S. Internet rule maker has not changed. Furthermore, this long-term monopolistic dominance of a field is the main reason for the monolithic culture of Internet hosting in the early days. As seen by the article “DIVERSITY ON THE INTERNET: THE RELATIONSHIP OF RACE TO ACCESS AND USAGE”(Hoffman, Novak, & Venkatesh, 1997), white users are still the mainstream on the Internet. It is not difficult to imagine how much overlap there would be in what an online forum talks about when it is full of users with the same cultural background. In contrast, the diversity of the flow of information is dramatically reduced because it is filled with the same voices and opinions. And by the time Internet penetration reaches 63 per cent of the world today, as of 2022(Statista, 2022), whites are still the dominant ethnic component of the workforce at Google company(Statista, 2022), the leading Internet company. So the root of the problem is clear: a platform or community can only have the potential for diversity if the content makers and rule makers are “diverse”
The lack of diversity is fatal to the development of the Internet. First of all, in Web 2.0, the Ritual communication model(Carey, 1989) has allowed information to be exchanged between users in a flexible way, meaning that users can find most of the content they want on a public-facing platform. When a company, in its role as regulator, fails to take responsibility for the diversity that a platform is supposed to have, then the user’s experience with the platform goes straight downhill. on June 27, 2020, in a clip provided by the Daily Mail of a black man arguing with a white civilian and a police officer, Facebook’s algorithm incorrectly identified the black man in the video and asked the user at the bottom of the video “Whether to continue watching this video about primates” (nytimes.com, 2021). After receiving reports of the issue, Facebook immediately apologised and acknowledged that it was an “unacceptable error. Even though Facebook has one of the world’s largest repositories of user-uploaded images, the algorithm still made errors in the essential function of identifying humans and animals, which is not something that can be attributed to technical immaturity. One could question whether the engineers also have a bias that belongs to them when building the algorithms. After all, when the ratio of white employees to black employees reaches 10:1 (Statista, 2022), any bias and stereotypes that are not malicious become normal. When a black person browsing a platform encounters such a situation, it is easy to feel offended and distrustful of the current platform. In today’s era, where user data is so essential, this kind of accumulation of small amounts of distrust will only increasingly reduce the user’s desire to use the current platform, thus entering a vicious circle between the user and the information relationship: less variety of users leads to single diversity, single diversity leads to more homogeneous output content, and finally only attracts more single information recipients. In the long run, this effect will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on a platform or a company, even the whole internet.
For individuals, the process of idea production was relatively closed, mutually isolated, and opaque; when the Internet penetrated people’s lives, society at large was also entitled to participate in the process of idea production, which was sufficiently open, interactive, and at the same time became sufficiently transparent. When the voices in the environment become more and more homogeneous, the possibility of different voices becomes less and less (Nicholas, 2009). When people’s narrow-minded prejudices are combined with the phenomenon of herding in the general environment, the ability to independent thinking becomes more and more scarce. A society with no imagination and creativity leaves the whole only regression. Roberta Ness(2014)’s book “The Creativity Crisis: Reinventing Science to Unleash Possibility” mentions that “some institutions and platforms created for innovation have begun to stifle it. and platforms have begun to stifle the ability to innovate slowly”. Individuals must learn critically from the Internet to be able to help them in a meaningful way.
The impact and persecution of lack of diversity on individuals are already challenging to ignore. However, when such a phenomenon continues to rise to a higher level, the resulting consequences are only more complex. Post-colonialism has become commonplace in today’s era of high information flow, accelerated economic globalisation, and rapid development of information and networking technologies (Jazeel, 2018).
As a nation of immigrants, Australia’s diverse ethnic and cultural intermingling has become more evident here in a country where, before the 1960s, Australia’s policy of assimilation of ethnicity (requiring non-English speaking immigrants to renounce their ethnic, cultural, religious, identities completely) was fiercely protested by other ethnic groups at home, as well as internationally censured ( Multicultural Australia, 1982). After the 1960s, the country’s politicians realised the importance of maintaining cultural diversity, and multiculturalism (Mavrantonis, 1985) became one of the country’s basic national policies. It has led to significant improvements in labour supply and social stability in Australia since then (Multicultural Australia, 1982).
Diversity is a characteristic that cannot be ignored and has always played an irreplaceable role, both in the past and present. However, with the development of the Internet, not only do technology companies have an obligation to protect the culture of diversity, but ordinary users also need to be vigilant in the face of any phenomena and behaviours that may be harmful to diversity. They can maintain this precious treasure of humanity in the flood of technology and the wear and tear of time.
Mowery, D. C., & Simcoe, T. (2002). Is the Internet a US invention?—an economic and technological history of computer networking. Research Policy, 31(8), 1369–1387. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0048-7333(02)00069-0
Hoffman, D.L., Novak, T.P., & Venkatesh, A. (1998). DIVERSITY ON THE INTERNET: THE RELATIONSHIP OF RACE TO ACCESS AND USAGE.
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Statista. (2022, September 20). Worldwide digital population July 2022. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/
Statista. (2022, July 7). Google: U.S. corporate demography 2014-2021, by ethnicity. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/311810/google-employee-ethnicity-us/
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