What’s your #IndyRef filter bubble?

Is there an #IndyRef filter bubble, and does this matter?

Let’s do one of those cheesy audience participation bits. Just think about where you stand on the Scottish Referendum, or indeed Israel or any other issue you’re passionate about. And see what’s popping up in your Twitter recommendations. (Top right if you’re logged in on twitter.com). Here’s ours a couple of weeks ago when I first drafted this 😮

Blog Yes Filter Bubble

The filter bubble was first described by Eli Pariser as this problem where the more we search, follow and like, the more the social web and search engine we use tailors what we see…

It’s early days for PositionDial and we’re building a core audience of people (mainly in the UK to start) who have a position on the big issues.  We try really, really hard to follow and bring in members and voices on all sides of the spectrum.


Perhaps understandably, from the beginning, Scottish Independence has been one of our hot topics. And it has been the ‘Yes’ crowd who has engaged with us most on Twitter (although this piece saying Tony Benn hoped Scotland would remain part of the UK, has been one of the most popular we’ve shared).

41  Twitter

Today, this is our recommendations. Love Twitter – don’t want to knock it. But can there possibly be more proof that the filter bubble is real, and we are all in it, even when we’re trying really hard not to be? And what does this mean for democracy in a debate of such importance? Shouldn’t we actually be following and listening to people who don’t agree with us all the time, too?

Right. I’m off to seek some undecideds , some “No thanks-ers” – and even some Naw-ers. I’ll tell you on Twitter if it works…!


Your PositionDial: deconstructed

We get quite a few people having loads of fun playing around with their PositionDial but not quite understanding what the inner versus the outer circles mean. Awkward.

And what’s in the middle, you ask?

So sorry it’s not been super-clear.

Here especially for you is a diagram to explain how it all breaks out. We’re also throwing it up on the about page.

dial deconstructed

It’s not the most beautiful infograph you’ve ever seen (mostly because I made it) … but hopefully it does the job for now…


Seeing the different sides on PositionDial


We’ve made an update today to make it easier to keep track of reading / watching the different sides of the story via PositionDial.


You’ve told us seeing different perspectives in one place is what you want most. From today you will be able to see how many you’ve seen, easily, via a tick top left on the media window of items you’ve visited.

PositionDial.com   Workers in Scotland forced to turn to foodbanks

For registered, logged in users, this will carry with you from visit to visit.  (We’re also planning to provide you with a full article history, like your statement history, soon.)


We have also introduced a new red arrow icon to show when a media item is viewable offsite, rather than on PositionDial.


The red arrow appears top right on the media window. You can find out more about why items are shown on or offsite in our FAQ. And as always do keep your feedback, media and blog suggestions coming!

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PositionDial live at the Fikay Fashion Foundation Launch!

Fikay Foundation Fashion Show Fikay bag

PositionDial proudly supported the recent Fikay Fashion Foundation launch. Guests interacted live throughout the night at a special PositionDial page created for the event.

PositionDial for Fikay

The event brought to life the Fikay brand and the purpose behind its new Fashion Foundation

“Fikay Fashion is here to lift people out of poverty and bring colour to peoples lives. Wear it. Look good. Do good”

Fikay  download (3)

The Fashion show on the night showcased Fikay’s upcycled accessories and bags, including wallets and guitar cases:

Fikay Fikay

We worked with Karlo, Co-founder and event organiser, to develop a series of highly relevant statements for event attendees to respond to. Helping them get closer and respond to the issues Fikay cares about, by clicking to get their PositionDials:

Fikay PositionDial

“Enabling our attendees to engage via PositionDial helped people think and interact about the issues that matter to us most, ranging from Employment to Empowerment to Education – the three E’s we believe have the power to break the cycle of poverty and make a real change in this world. A cause and purpose that stretches far beyond your average fashion brand…”

Karlo Faggetter, Fikay Co-founder 

If you’re interested in engaging your event guests via a custom PositionDial experience please email me – mariam @ positiondial.com.

Photo credit (all event photos):  Aleksandra Jordan

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PositionDial is anonymous

PositionDial is anonymous – if you want it to be.

Last night I attended an excellent event hosted by Involve at the University of Westminster – entitled ‘Technology and Democratic Participation – friend or foe.’

A point well made by Catherine Howe was on paying attention to the architectural layer, not just the application layer. And the ‘why.’ Including the choices we make about identity as we build opportunities to participate online.

I have spoken and written on the importance of anonymity and flexible identities online many times, and this is very much built into PositionDial‘s architecture.

PositionDial helps you work out where you stand, see who matches you, and explore the issues you care about. We have several levels of identity on site:

  • Anonymous – you can use PositionDial, and get your PositionDial, without registering with us or logging in. We use cookies to remember you and help you build your dial as you browse from page to page. But we don’t store your IP address. So there’s no way of us storing your activity or your PositionDial with your location or identity once you close your browser window.
  • Pseudonymous – You can register with any username you like / or Twitter – we don’t force you to use your full, real name
  • Full name – but if you don’t mind, we’d love you to know your real name. We’ll only use it for keeping in touch and making  PositionDial better for you.

Transparency is the only way

There’s a lot of valid, and invalid concern about data sharing and privacy on social media and discovery sites. Transparency is of course the best and the only way to handle this.

For our part, PositionDial offers agencies, charities, businesses and others analytics and insight into where their target customers, stakeholders and partners stand on important issues (we strongly believe this is win:win, if ‘they’ know better, they can do better for all of us). These analytics are based on aggregated, anonymised social PositionDials (from social media data, which is already public), and aggregated action PositionDials (from data about MP voting and companies etc. which is already public).

In other words, we would never, and have no reason to, share any personally identifiable data about you.

Furthermore, as stipulated in our privacy policy, we would, as Twitter and others have done before, closely interrogate and strenuously resist outside requests to access your data.

You also have the right to be forgotten (by us). That is, seriously, even if you’ve signed up and got your PositionDial and it’s all saved nice and neatly in our system. If you want out, we’ll delete you. Simples.

Image credit: Triple Pundit

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A new axis: anti-objectification vs sex-positive feminism


Are there different sides to feminism and gender issues?


Today we launch a new position axis: ‘anti-objectification vs sex-positive.’ This caters for the pro-sex feminist (and non-feminist) perspective as well as it’s opposite.

Our technology and team are continually incorporating all the different ways of looking at the world – from the river of opinion coming in and feedback from you, our users.

We needed a way to incorporate the difference between feminists from GlossWitch to Paris Lees to Holly Baxter who have different beliefs on what represents progress in terms of sex, sexuality and representation for all genders.

We will continue to use the conservative / progressive axis to cover questions of gender roles evolving / staying the same – as appropriate.

But on matters of sexual liberalism, from porn to prostitution to media representation, we are to use this new divide – between sex-positive feminism, and anti-objectification – to ensure both sides of the coin are clearly laid out to see, explore and react to.

As ever, if you have comments on this axis choice, or suggestions on authors, commentators and politicians whose content we should be aggregating and featuring for gender or any other issues, please let us know via email info [@] PositionDial.com / Twitter @PositionDial or in the comments below.

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PositionDial LSE Launch: time for action

Last Wednesday we held PositionDial‘s LSE Launch party in association with Polis.  It was a triple-decker launch –

  1. To LSE students
  2. Of our new responsive site
  3. And lastly, most excitingly, of our new action matches feature

As it’s our first post – I’ll summarize PositionDial super-quick..

See the different sides of the story

positiondial UK in Europe Independence or Union

Seen a trending issue, news story or blog post? Want to see a different perspective? Think there’s a different side you’re not being shown? Check PositionDial – whether left, right, traditional, progressive, pro-independence or pro-union – we show you the different sides of the story in one place so you’re not left wondering.

Get your PositionDial

Get your PositionDial

React to Position statements to get your PositionDial – a dynamic, living representation of  where you stand on the issues you care about.

Explore your action matches

MP action dial example Action matches show you which brands, organisations and MPs line up with your position. We’ve started with an initial spread of companies and UK politicians – and are building up. If there’s a politician or (independent) company data source you’d urgently like us to add, just let us know. Our MP action matches are powered by data positioned (by us) from TheyWorkForYou.com

Why oh why

During the event I spoke on the deep problems our research at PositionDial has uncovered: from a lack of trust in centers of power, to the decline in participation at elections, to difficulty seeing and navigating different perspectives (aka the filter bubble), to the huge and growing demand from people, institutions, politicians and businesses alike, to know, understand and make better decisions in relation to the issues that matter.

I also touched on ‘agonistic pluralism’ – a core concept which underpins PositionDial – essentially it supports providing space for difference, not striving for consensus. And having a deep respect and concern for ‘the other.’

And how

Organising everything by position and perspective makes it easy to see, compare and find everything in an entirely new way.

David, our super-full-stack CTO, who quite heroically rebuilt PositionDial’s whole (big data) platform in a matter of weeks single-handedly – gave a quick tour of the pd magic…

He’ll be sharing more of how he’s making it all happen here when some feeling returns to the end of his fingers.

Never a word wasted

It was a great crowd in the room – we heard a raft of sharp and insightful feedback.  If you were there..  be assured not a word was wasted and we will be discussing your ideas in the pages of this blog and more importantly (in keeping with the pd spirit) turning them into action.

Two sides: Austerity

Richard Seymour cllr Harry Phibbs

We were also super-stoked to host a fascinating debate on austerity between Richard Seymour (writer at Leninology and The Guardian) and Harry Phibbs (Conservative Councillor and regular at Conservative Home).

Their totally different perspectives on austerity, the UK economy, and the global financial system more broadly – powerfully brought to life the value of hearing both sides of the story.

You can listen to their debate here (Dropbox audio download) and react to Position statements from both on PositionDial.

Give in to us

For PositionDial to work it needs to be powered by everyone. You can add media and opinion right now by clicking on the ‘Position empty’ sign and we will be adding more ways to contribute as the weeks roll on.

In the meantime, we are very open to suggestions via email, Twitter or comments on:

  • Topics to cover
  • Authors / bloggers
  • Action data sources
  • Position statements
  • Blog posts / articles / videos
  • Anything you think should be positioned differently

(We are still bug fixing from the big change over so please excuse any hiccups.)

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