METAJORNAL is a web-based speculative newsroom that considers how mass communication influences information circulation in contemporary cities. Designed as an online platform to aggregate and organize data from grassroots media organizations in Latin America, mainly Brazil, the news agregate aims at experimenting with algorithmic transparency, democratic centralism and gatekeeping theory to rethink the epistemic character of data visualisation applications and propose alternative long-term solutions for information distribution.

The platform seeks to act as a data Robin Hood, acquiring targeted data from large sources such as  Facebook, Google and Reddit and reorganizing them into a digestible transparent news portal citing original links and sources. This has not only the intent of offering a counter informational source to the algorithmic landscape but also demonstrate an alternative to existing corporate platforms that might inspire a real long-term solution in the fields of communication, governance and public policy.

The optimism regarding the revolutionary potential in the circulation of information on the internet, particularly those done through social media platforms, has diminished considerably in the last 5 years. This comes from the increased awareness of three main observations departing from the discussions surrounding the internet:

  1. Increased concentration of power and wealth;
  2. Lesser public and/or transparent ownership of technology;
  3. Images are increasingly inserted into dubious contexts of interpretation.

The rigging of elections and public polls (e.g. Brexit in UK, Trump in US, Bolsonaro in Brazil) alongside the geopolitical and social challenges put by quasi-state private entities such as Amazon, Alibaba and Facebook, calls for a solution in equal systemic level that goes beyond the "states vs. markets" model, preserving individual democratic rights such as the freedom of speech while experimenting with values at odd to our times such as the notion of Democratic Centralism. Additionally, considering also planetary environmental and social emergency, the degradation of western democratic institutions and limitation of resources such as time, place and budget for constestational projects, this alternative should also account for new paradigms in process that can surface the contemporary challenges that we face today.

As a speculative platform for information circulation, the development of the project 'Public Audio' could be an active demonstration of how applied critical theory can address emerging technologies not to create an object of contemplation but to instigate knowledge creation. Moreover, the actual application of visual strategies in web-based coding (e.g. letters of a text in a screen starting to shake the more the algorithm is at work) can offer a critical reframing of the philosophy of technology as an ambivalent vehicle of societal development that should be disputed. Thus, the process of developing and programming Public Audio would focus in critically addressing the cultural politics of high-tech work practices while still proposing a lively debate of conceptual implications surrounding the news portal and its working parameters.