World News Insights
1-3 Minute Gist

World News Insights 1-3 Minute Gist

The Movement for Global Literacy

Trivia, Culture of Clicks and Literacy

Trivia, Culture of Clicks and Literacy

The Google algorithm itself has not changed over a decade in its basic idea that the most viewed items in the Internet are the ones people want, and which should be shown first. With changes in society, changes in science and technology, global changes as new countries merge into the global economy, changes in politics, culture, problems with literacy, issues of civic literacy and democracy, new ways need to be considered and societal change taken into account to make progress. Here is how-


Changes in technology

Computing technology has changed over ten years to make it possible to do 100 times in speed and range of information what could be done before.

Taking the maximum number of views means taking the lowest common denominator in this situation. Pushing this idea to the extreme shows the weakness of an algorithm based on letting the most views dominate in terms of what is shown first, second, and so on. The human mind has some built in tendencies to immediately respond to a picture, trivia, sensational aspect, added to this if there is a bias of some sort. Most views simply pulls this stuff to the top. The programmers behind the algorithm are naturally dependent on their knowledge of coding, which is by its very nature unable to tackle the problem that is created of pushing this stuff to the top.

Even with the best of intentions or some tweaking the result is nearly the same.  Computing power has grown tremendously, but results have deteriorated.

Consequence- the public dialogue has deteriorated. The debates are less informed. The capacity of media companies in terms of reporting shrinks in the process, and shrinks even further as some of the capacity is diverted to trivia and sensational, and some media companies shut down.


Changes in society

Changes in patterns of trade and production mean economic changes that affect  income levels. In developed countries wages compete with wages in developing countries, with the speed of the changes accelerating in the last ten years. Wages in manufacturing, and in many service industries, drop to make education less affordable for what was previously a middle class family in a developed country. Social and culture changes such as obesity, health issues, working two jobs, draw time and resources away from teaching within the home outside of the classroom. Reading proficiency declines further in this situation- statistics from 2016 ACT Test show about  44% students meeting a Reading Proficiency standard in the U.S. This means about 56% of U.S. students graduate from high school without reading proficiency. It also means that with a standard required to compete in a global economy that is higher than the current Reading Proficiency standard such as ACT,  the figures of those failing could approach a much higher percentage of high school graduates in the U.S.

Consequence- combine this with the most views being pulled to the top with the Google algorithm. And a culture that sees the most views as the new arbiter for culture and engages literacy at this level. The result is that much of the public that do not even meet Reading Proficiency requirements are the arbiters of what you see. The programming coding technology is indifferent to this, with some exceptions from tweaking the code what comes up is the stuff that these people are looking at.  The result is that the educated with high Reading Proficiency who have other opportunities and methods, are accessing information that is different from what those with fewer educational opportunities or poorer societal circumstances are seeing. And the overall level is deteriorating for all the reasons covered- technological, monopolistic, and societal.


Missing aspirations

Where literacy and culture were set at a normative level throughout history, a level that one aspired to and which required effort to meet that aspiration, today whole sections of society are being engaged at a level that that is set by instincts and which requires no effort of a constructive kind. The result is a lower level of literacy- in schooling, civic and media dimensions, and in connecting to a globalized economy. Behavioural research done at San Diego State University on the iGeneration also confirms an acceleration in this trend as about an average of 6 hours spent on technological devices such as iPhones have meant less time for reading.

This is an unacceptable situation for a country or democracy to function effectively, and has negative consequences both in the short term and the long term.


How tackles the problem

Lyrarc looks at the most viewed information also, seeing that there is some merit in the fact that more people went to a particular piece of information and viewed it. But it takes into account the vast computing power of technology that now reaches billions of pieces of information. Looks at the presence of Google and other companies that have by their presence led to the domination of algorithm based information dissemination. Looks at the effects of these two factors on the traditional media providers of information leading to a decline in the resources of these traditional media providers. Looks at the societal changes as Reading Proficiency for competing in a global economy in the U.S. fell- it meant over half of students being closer to the true figure graduating from high schools, were not meeting Global Literacy standards. 

Lyrarc adopts the approach of taking the most viewed pieces of information in media for readers with a higher level of proficiency, such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and others. It uses humans with expertise to take the ten most read world and national news topics, and selects the best articles for each of these topics in the top twenty quality of coverage news media sources worldwide, giving multiple perspectives. It then makes these accessible to readers in three ways simplifying the task of the reader who wants to stay connected, informed, worldly, preparing him to function well in a global economy.

First, by providing the gist or short summary of the best articles on a topic each week, that take into account the other good articles also written on that topic that week.

Second,by using its unique patented technology of groups and links. Groups are constructed from articles to provide instant recognition of content from titles, with a range of groups on a topic. Links connect two articles which provide insight from different perspectives, and also can be instantly recognized for content.

Third, theSearch bar in brings up only the most important, most read by proficient readers, with the least number of redundant or irrelevant content.

Fourth, Top Stories also function in the same way for the five most important topics for that week or two week period, bringing up the best, most relevant, most viewed content by proficient readers.


Tests with Google News and Google Search showing superior performance- in time saved by a factor of 5-10, and insights gained to be informed, connected, prepared, for a global economy work environment.

Our own tests with Google News and Google Search, show superior performance for the most recent Top Story in June 2017 of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord.

The superior performance is in three categories. In the first category, in speed and time saved. Google Search with keyword in Google’s Search bar of “Paris climate accord” brings up a range of articles. The articles on the Top Stories for term “Paris climate change” is the other place in Google News. The time saved could be by a factor of 5 to 10 times as the gist of articles from multiple perspectives of the best sources in enables not having to read each article.The first three lines given by Google are mostly inadequate to bring out insights, requiring further reading of each article. Because Google does not or cannot in a web crawler based world differentiate between articles for quality of content on a topic, the articles are mostly random when tested for quality and multiple perspectives.

The second category, superior performance is in insights gained, as the insights are stated in the Lyrarc gist or summary of important selected articles. The three line blurb following the title of an article in Google News or Google Search results is not designed to provide insights.  Third category, because of the time saved up to this point the reader can now easily look at the groups and links, and click on a group or link to explore a particular angle such as how the European Union views the U.S. withdrawal as one of about 10-20 angles covered. Before one has clicked and looked at the second or third article in Google’s list, a reader could have gained the insights, looked at the multiple perspectives, and be done in  Overall the performance is far superior in terms of insights gained and in the time it takes by a multiple factor. Here is the information that came up on Google Search and Google News Top Stories on this topic, and the corresponding information from for this test. Other sites CNN, Fr 24, BBC are also shown for comparison. A discussion in detail of the Test Results follows.

  Test Results

Topic: U.S. withdrawal from Paris Climate Change Accord

Date: June 3, 2017

Internet sites of Lyrarc, FR 24, BBC News, CNN, Google News, used in this comparison


Angles to Topic/Insights                 

1. Cited Scientific Evidence          Only Lyrarc and BBC News covered this angle for insights

2.  4 year Process                         Only Lyrarc covered this angle for insights

3.  Utilities shift from coal              Only Lyrarc covered this angle for insights

4.  Reaction- U.S.                           Lyrarc, FR 24, BBC News, CNN, Google News covered this angle

5.  Reaction- Europe, China           Lyrarc, FR 24, BBC News, CNN, Google News covered this angle

6.  Reaction- India                           Only Lyrarc and BBC News covered this angle

7.  Politics- Trump base                  Only Lyrarc and FR 24 covered this angle

Lyrarc Test Results Discussion

In covering the topic from as many of the important angles Lyrarc bears in mind the major concerns of young readers of fake news and polarizing news, time constraints, transparency(integrity), and authenticity. We looked at BBC, CNN, Fr 24, Google News, for this test.


Fake News

Instant, breaking news is covered by all the sites. Google’s tendency to focus on the instant or immediate, breaking news, day by day, detracts from the need of the present time for perspective, of carefully reflecting on what is being conveyed, and building depth to ensure readers understand not just skim through.

Trivia and major news topics scattered within the site are to be seen in BBC News and CNN.Readers may have to skip a story on a stabbing incident to get to a major news topic.The extent of trivia undermines the coverage of major news topics as the reader’s focus is lost by the time he reaches the end of the page.


Polarizing News

Much of the coverage had the nature of polarized coverage, resulting in a focus on reaction of cities, different countries. As a result missing some of the important angles on the topic such as cited Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientific evidence, the utilities shift away from coal, the four year process leaving a final decision to the 2020 election.


Time constraints

The Google articles had 30-40 titles from a whole range of sources in a random order with no organization. The titles were followed by 1 and half lines on the content which conveyed very little information. The three articles at the top from Washington Post, Guardian and the New York Times, would have to be read to get some comprehension of the topic, which would take about 15 minutes to 25 minutes depending on the reader.  

The CNN and BBC articles on climate change were embedded in various topics in a random fashion, mixed in with some trivia and some articles on other topics including the investigations into Trump campaign and Comey. Readers would have to have some discipline to avoid the distraction from the random order and trivia. Clicking on the scientific evidence topic in the BBC might be missed in the coverage of U.S. and world reaction. The India climate change coverage in BBC and the science story would only give a small part of the whole picture, and reading the 2 stories would take 10 or 15 minutes depending on the reader, and 5 minutes to find the articles by looking at the cluttered page and random order.

By contrast in the 20-30 minutes it would take on each of the other sites, the reader could in less than 10  minutes in read the gist and cover all the main points from all or most of the important angles to the topic, and look at the groups and links for added insights.


Polarizing effect and Authenticity/Transparency

Fighting fake news also involves fighting fringe views and highly polarized content as it detracts from a good understanding of a topic from different angles. Lyrarc makes this possible by presenting topics covering multiple perspectives and covering different angles of the topic.

On this topic all of the sites tended to be polarized, some strongly so, leading to covering mostly world reaction and not adding to a comprehension of the topic. By avoiding this tendency Lyrarc provided a better comprehension of the topic, and covered most of the important angles on the topic of climate change, giving new insights to the reader.


Easy Access

Through its unique patented Groups and Links structure of organizing the world’s information Lyrarc makes access easy to get in depth understanding of a topic. The Search bar provides the capability to enter a keyword and search at any time to bring up relevant and important  information only, because of the way it is structured. By contrast the scattered nature with trivia in BBC and CNN, and the huge number of entries in Google make looking for information tedious and time consuming. Once this hurdle is overcome there remains the next hurdle of reading all the articles one by one, not just skimming them as that would not help much in understanding. Not only is information organized better in Lyrarc, the gist of important articles in Lyrarc means not having to read each article, one by one.


The Movement for Global Literacy and LyrArc


The College and Career Readiness Gap

A Georgetown University report shows that between 1973 and 2015, the share of jobs in the U.S. economy requiring post secondary education and the literacy skills required for a globalized economy increased from 28% to 61%. Lacking the advanced literacy skills, young people are at risk of being kept out of the middle class, and working in lower wage jobs. Young people graduating from high schools and universities not having proficiency in reading skills and the digital literacy skills enabled by reading skills, are likely to be be struggling to find jobs in a competitive globalized economy.

In the U.S. National Assessment of Education Progress Reading Proficiency scores, reflecting the literacy performance of seventeen year olds, have not improved since 1971, remaining essentially flat. In the 2015 school year, only 46% of U.S. high school graduates tested met the reading readiness benchmark, which represents the knowledge and skills a student needs to succeed in credit-bearing, first year college courses.

About two third of jobs in today’s globalized economy require higher reading proficiency and reading proficiency enabled digital literacy skills. Yet only 42 percent of 12th graders nationally in the U.S. graduate with these skills as shown in the ACT examination results of 2016. And other countries may set higher standards than the ACT for their students, creating an added gap to overcome to compete in a global economy. The college aspirational gap is also growing in two ways. As children from families where the income levels are below $80,000 are doing worse on ACT scores between 2013-2016. As 20% of students on the ACT test aspiring to go to college cannot make it to college.


Lyrarc is a tool designed to improve the reading proficiency skills, and the digital literacy skills enabled by reading ability. It is also designed to connect students and prepare them with knowledge for work in a global economy.  Free access means all students have access to information and knowledge that connect them to the global economy, including students from all parts of society.


The Enemy Within

The gap can be seen in the NAEP reading scores for 17 year olds essentially flat or declining in some parts of the U.S. shown in the graph on the next page. If we look at an imaginary line that is growing steeply on that graph representing the doubling of jobs  requiring reading skills and digital literacy skills at a higher level in the globalized economy from 28% to 61% by 2015, we could see how the proficiency and global economy related trends are merging to produce a gap that is growing over time.

At the same time an aspirational gap is growing underlining the fact that a lot of young people are being left behind because they simply do not have the literacy skills or the resources to compete. This amounts to an alarming fact- it is reversing much of the social gains made in the 20th century bringing opportunity to a wider and larger group of people. The very reason that made the U.S. great, economically strong because it was powered by its high schools and its universities, with literacy and cultural levels that matched economic strength, now under threats from within.


A Personal Story

Then there is a personal story. My story begins with reading growing up many years ago, and many years later is back to the same point at reading with Lyrarc. As we look at reading proficiency what is it that matters most?

I would say for me imagination, reading that fires up one’s imagination sets in motion something that stays with one forever. It creates intellectual curiosity. This starts at a very young age. It needs to be nourished in the school years K-12. Vocabulary plays a big part in development of reading skills. This is my personal experience. Not enough is done in this area I believe. One of Lyrarc’s goals in reading education is to have developers come up with new games and other ways to make learning new words fun and exciting. Grammar is a harder one, and here it is important to know the rules, and then let one’s reading help one along the way to develop a sense of usage and rhythm.

It is through reading, and reading a wide variety of books that one can develop over time one’s own style. Style is the man goes the expression, and this is something I have experienced. The arrangement of the words, the rhythm, the flow of the line, the voice that is speaking, all make up the style of a person. It all goes back to vocabulary and imagination, as the building blocks for reading.

iPads and iPhones provide ways to access. The basics have not changed, I believe.This is true more than ever today for imagination, vocabulary, and style. The truth is that it requires aspiration, it requires effort, and it requires nurturing.


Civic and Media dimensions

A report co-authored by Prof. William Damon of Stanford University, “Youth Civic Development and Education,” in 2013 showed the U.S. education system is falling down in the job of giving students in high schools and universities the values, skills, and knowledge needed for constructive participatory citizenship. Damon is director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence.

Three areas in particular came up for attention- knowledge of global civic issues, encouraging discussion of contentious issues including the nitty gritty and messy aspects in a constructive way, and inspiring motivating young people to internalize values of democracy. Lyrarc enables an awareness of contemporary global civic issues, and provides the information tools for encouraging discussion of contentious issues in an atmosphere of tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect for alternative views through knowledge of multiple perspectives. Lyrarc also aims to inspire and motivate for internalizing the values of democracy.

This is happening in a context of an accelerating distrust of the media in society, especially among young people. Are young people turning to trivia because of this distrust?

Support LyrArc

We took a different way to help millions around the world build educated informed mindsets that affects and shapes their lives. For a future that is open, global and digital, with everyone having access to high quality information. We believe in the renewal of America, renewal of Europe, the renewal of India, the rest of Asia, Latin America and Africa. The renewal of our supply chains, health, education, infrastructure, as we rebuild our countries after the pandemic. Literacy and knowledge we believe cannot thrive and grow in a world of web bots, web crawlers, or AI. This requires human curiosity, human learning, and human imagination. We take as inspiration the saying- “One has to be free, and as broad as sky. One has to have a mind that is crystal clear, only then can truth shine in it.” Every contribution whether big or small is precious- in this crisis and ahead.

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