The Choose-Your-Own-News Adventure
AUSTIN, Tex. — A fascinating story emerged about Netflix last week.
The Daily Mail reported that the streaming television service was developing new interactive technology allowing viewers to direct the plots of certain television shows, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style.
据《每日邮报》(The Daily Mail)报道，这家流媒体电视服务公司正在开发一种新的互动技术，可以让观众决定某些电视节目的情节，就像“惊险岔路口”(Choose Your Own Adventure)那样。
The company later told me that the experiment was focused on children’s programming, more as a developmental learning tool than as some new twist on the modern media sphere’s rush to give you exactly what you want when you want it.
No matter how far the experiment goes, Netflix is again in step with the national zeitgeist. After all, there are algorithms for streaming music services like Spotify, for Facebook’s news feed and for Netflix’s own program menu, working to deliver just what you like while filtering out whatever might turn you off and send you away — the sorts of data-driven honey traps that are all the talk at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival going on here through this week. So why not extend the idea to the plots of your favorite shows?
不管这项实验能发展到什么程度，Netflix都又一次跟上了时代的步伐。毕竟，Spotify等流媒体音乐服务、Facebook的新闻订阅服务，以及Netfix自己的节目单都有算法致力于提供准确符合你的喜好的东西，同时过滤掉任何可能会让你厌烦或想要离开的内容，也就是本周正在这里举行的西南偏南互动媒体节(South by Southwest Interactive Festival)上都在谈论的那种数据驱动的甜蜜陷阱。所以为什么不把这种自己决定情节的点子，也延伸到你最喜欢的电视节目中呢？
Allow me to direct you to the real-world, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure news media misadventure of the past week, which I’ll call “POTUS45, Episode 6: The Presidential Wiretap That (A) Was, (B) Wasn’t, (C) Was Because He’s a Russian Agent and Oh, Sister, Is He in Trouble.”
It started with President Trump’s Twitter posts accusing former President Barack Obama of having wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower. Game on.
If you were inclined to believe that Mr. Obama did what Mr. Trump said he did — indeed, if you wanted to believe it — you probably would have tuned into “Fox & Friends” that Sunday morning for Adventure A.
如果你倾向于相信奥巴马做了特朗普所说的事——确切讲，如果你想相信是那么回事——你可能在那个周日上午收看过《福克斯和朋友们》(Fox & Friends)节目，即选项A。
There, you would have seen the radio host Mark Levin, whose show was credited with helping to spur Mr. Trump’s accusations, laying out the case for Mr. Trump, declaring, “This is about the Obama administration’s spying.”
The proof, you would have heard him say, was already out there in the mainstream media — what with a report on the website Heat Street saying that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had secured a warrant to investigate ties between people in Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia, and articles in The New York Times, in The Washington Post and elsewhere about intelligence linking people in Mr. Trump’s campaign to Russia, some of it from wiretaps.
你会听到他说，证据早就出现在主流媒体的报道里了——因为热街(Heat Street)网站上的一篇报道说联邦调查局(Federal Bureau of Investigation)获得了对特朗普竞选团队成员与俄罗斯的关系进行调查的授权，还有《纽约时报》、《华盛顿邮报》(The Washington Post)等媒体报道了将特朗普团队成员与俄罗斯之间建立关联的情报，有些是来自窃听。
“These are police state tactics!” Mr. Levin would tell you.
Sure, you would have picked up static from other sources that made some of this seem ridiculous. But that stuff is for the followers of Adventure B, relying on fact-based journalism from seasoned reporters with deep contacts and established (and, yes, sometimes imperfect) protocols for fact-checking — all of which the Adventure A people view with deep suspicion that the president is only too happy to stir.
If you were among the Adventure B folk, maybe you saw James Clapper Jr., the former national security director, tell Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that Sunday that the F.B.I. had not secured a FISA warrant to spy on Mr. Trump’s aides.
如果你是选B的人，或许已经看到美国前任国家情报总监小詹姆斯·R·克拉珀(James Clapper Jr.)周日在《会见媒体》(Meet the Press)节目上告诉查克·托德(Chuck Todd)，联邦调查局并没有获得可以让他们监听特朗普助手的外国情报监听法(FISA)授权令。
You probably would have seen the news, first reported by The Times, that the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had asked the Justice Department to deny Mr. Trump’s charge (to no avail), and the viral video of George Stephanopoulos of ABC News telling a presidential aide, “That’s false,” as she tried to reprise the Adventure A argument that mainstream news reports backed Mr. Trump’s wiretap accusation.
你可能会看到时报率先报道的那则消息，即联邦调查局局长詹姆斯·B·科米(James B. Comey)要求司法部驳斥特朗普的指控（结果无济于事），会看到一段广为传播的视频显示，当总统的一名助手试图重复选项A中的观点——即主流新闻媒体的报道证实了特朗普的窃听指控，ABC新闻频道(ABC News)的乔治·斯蒂芬诺普洛斯(George Stephanopoulos)对她说，“那是假的。”
You would have seen PolitiFact’s point-by-point rebuttal of the same argument — and, finally, a week later, reports about how evidence for Mr. Trump’s charge still had yet to surface.
Or, lastly, were you an Adventure C kind of person? If so, you couldn’t get enough about how Mr. Trump’s wiretap allegation and the Russian connections could lead to his impeachment (MSNBC, The Independent, Maxine Waters), and your Facebook feed probably included the learnprogress.org headline “The F.B.I. Is Now Officially CRIMINALLY Investigating Donald J. Trump.” (Nothing in the posting it links to shows evidence for any such thing.)
最后一点，你是选择C那种人吗？如果是的话，你会喜欢看到有关特朗普的窃听指控和与俄罗斯的关联会如何导致他被弹劾（MSNBC频道、《独立报》(The Independent)、马克辛·沃特斯[Maxine Waters]）的信息，你在Facebook的订阅信息可能会包括learnprogress.org网站的头条新闻《FBI现在正式对唐纳德·J·特朗普展开刑事调查》(The F.B.I. Is Now Officially CRIMINALLY Investigating Donald J. Trump)。（其中链接的帖子没有提供任何可以证实这一消息的证据。）
As Mr. Stephanopoulos told me when we spoke by phone over the weekend, the trend may have been heading this way for a while — you don’t need an algorithmic feed to turn on Fox News or to catch Rush Limbaugh. But in the era of the curated digital news stream, the choose-your-news phenomenon has “ended up in a whole new place,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said.
It’s easy to overdo it, he noted, given that no specially tailored plotline can fully tune out the contradicting details of another one. “Filters do have to contend with each other in some way, too,” he said.
Really, arguments between adherents of the different adventure plots are the stuff of cable news programming, with each narrative vying for supremacy in debates that too often become arguments over established facts that should be indisputable.
Because, after all, one of the plots we’re talking about here is of the sort that democracy depends on — that would be Adventure B, the one based on established facts that exist in the real world — and the others are of the sort that threatens to undermine any shared sense of truth while driving us into our corners.