The AverPoint Blog

November 22, 2023
Issues with Reading Time

If your reading time is not counting, here are a few steps to troubleshoot.

  1. Confirm that you have the browser extension installed. Without the browser extension, we can’t measure your reading time. If you don’t have it, you can follow these steps
  2. Make sure your extension is visible. If you don’t see it on your browser, you may have to pin it. To pin the extension, click the puzzle piece and then click the pin next to AverPoint.
  3. Allow us to analyze your news reading. Click the browser button and turn on the setting.
  4. If you checked all 3 steps, send us an email at [email protected].
  5. Send us your debug logs by clicking the browser button, selecting the gear in the upper right corner, and then selecting “Send my debug logs.”

Watch this video for more help.

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November 21, 2023
How to add the Browser Extension

To install the AverPoint browser extension, follow these steps

  • Go to your browser’s extension store
  • Click the install button
  • Click through the warnings. We take your privacy and data’s security very seriously, and you can read our approach here.
  • Make the extension visible on your toolbar. In Chrome, click the puzzle piece in the upper right corner of your browser. Then, click the “pin” icon next to AverPoint. You should see the blue AverPoint button appear on your browser.
  • If your AverPoint button is white, that means you are logged out. Click the button and log into AverPoint. 
  • Click the blue AverPoint button and configure your settings
    • Show the Reading Widget: If on, the Reading Widget will appear whenever you visit an approved news website.
    • Analyze my news reading: If on, we will log the articles you read and long you read them. You can see your reading summary in your AverPoint Activity page.
    • Show the Credibility Layer: If on, we’ll add a layer over the news articles you read. You can use this layer to interact with the claims in the news articles. This lets you question, review, add evidence to, and save claims. You can also see how the AverPoint community interacted with the article.
    • Click the gear icon to explore more settings. These let you configure how you save claims, the position of the credibility layer, and more. 

Watch this video for a demo.

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November 14, 2023
How to review a Point.

The AverPoint Credibility layer lets you review the claims in major newspapers. To review Points, you must be Level 4 on AverPoint, proving that you have have a healthy newsreading diet. Here are the specific steps:

First, the basics

  • Make sure you have the AverPoint extension installed.
  • Click the blue browser button and make sure the setting “show credibility layer on approved news sites” is on.

  1. Now, go to a news article on an approved news site. (The extension's check should turn green.)
  2. Hover over a paragraph. You should see icons appear to the right of the paragraph. 
  3. Read the article for at least 30 seconds. You can’t review a Point until then.
  4. Click the Review icon - the spectacles.
  5. The AverPoint widget should appear. Click the big blue button that says “Review this Point.”
  6. Decide if you think there is sufficient evidence to support the claim.
  7. Add evidence to support or oppose the claim. You can do this two ways
  8. In the add Point box, you can paste the link to your evidence.
  9. You can click “import” and select a Point from your research collections

Here's a video that show you how to Review a Point. 

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November 14, 2023
How to save a Point

The AverPoint Credibility layer lets you interact with text in 4 ways. Saving a Point lets you capture the text, organize it in your research collections, and use it later as evidence to support your writings and reviews.

To save a Point, follow these steps

1. Make sure you have the browser extension installed. Chrome is the best choice. It should work on other browsers, but let me know you're having an issue. 

2. Go to a news site and click on an article.

3. In the article, select some text. You should see a green rectangle form around the text with 2 buttons in the lower right. Click the Save button.

4. A widget should appear. In the widget, you should see an option to save to a Collection. That's like saving to a folder. 

5. If you don't have a Collection created, click the Create Collection link and create one.

6. Once you pick a collection to save into, click the Point button at the bottom of the widget.

Here's a video that shows it in action.

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November 13, 2023
How to question a Point

Using the AverPoint Credibility Layer, you can interact with the text in major newspapers. One of the 4 actions you can take is "Question a Point." It's not trolling the writer, but a responsible way to explain why you question the claim - and your take on the claim's supporting evidence. 

Here's how you question a Point:

1. Click the browser button and make sure the setting for "Show Credibility Layer on news sites" is turned on.

2. Go to an article you want to question. 

3. Read it for at least 30 seconds

4. Hover over a paragraph - you should see icons appear. 

5. Click the Question Mark icon. A widget should appear on the right.

6. Click the big blue button that says "Question this Point"

7. Answer the questions and hit submit.

This video shows you how to do it.

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September 11, 2023
How do sources get approved on AverPoint?

AverPoint has a 2-phased approach to determining if a source is "approved," meaning we'll measure reading time and critical interactions on that source.

Phase 1: 5 Criteria

For now, we screen a source for 5 criteria: 

  1. Editorial process: There’s a public process that explains how editors review a story before it is published. 
  2. Fact-checking: The editorial process includes fact-checking to confirm the claims can be verified or corroborated.
  3. Retraction: If the source publishes something incorrectly, they admit their mistakes and publish a retraction.
  4. Attribution/Plagiarism: If a journalist misattributes a quote, statistic, or more, there should be significant penalties. If they pass along another person’s work as their own, they should be fired. This isn’t just about ethics. Today's open information network depends heavily on accurate attribution, especially in the decentralized internet age.
  5. No history of disinformation: The source does not have a history of strategically using false information to advance their agenda. If they do, it’s almost impossible to trust what they say. 

For now, a source gets the green check if it meets these 5 screening criteria. We look up their publisher standards and also rely on external reviews to determine if the criteria are met.

Phase 2: Credibility Layer

In the future, AverPoint aims to develop a community-powered credibility layer that generates 21st century trust between honest sources and media literate audiences. Like the US Constitution, the credibility system will be open while it protects against tyranny from the top or bottom. This is durable free speech that lasts over time. Readers should be able to question claims, and experts should be able to review claims. These checks on the media should be qualified and shouldn’t turn into trolling. If the source receives questions and reviews from responsible readers and experts, the source should respond - even if it means admitting a mistake.

Note for AverPoint Classroom Users

In AverPoint Classroom, teachers can assign readings from any source, even if they are not approved by AverPoint. We'll still measure student reading time and critical interactions.

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January 16, 2023
The right way for schools to beat ChatGPT

Universities and high schools around the country are grappling with ChatGPT, and how students might cheat using generative AI. The threat of students using generative AI to cheat on their essays, however, can also be an opportunity to improve how schools teach essay writing. This January, AverPoint Classroom launched the AverPoint Writer, a compliment to AverPoint Reader, to help teachers realize this opportunity.

The right solution has to understand the core problem. It's not just that students might cheat, but that our future citizens might not develop the skills to clarify their thoughts or form their own ideas. Through essay writing, we shift from passive absorbers of someone else's messages into active constructors of our own meaning. (That’s one reason why our tagline is, There is a Point.)

AverPoint Writer lets teachers assign in-class essays, and guide students through a learning journey. Teachers have tools to assess and improve all the building blocks of writing an argumentative essay: gathering evidence, evaluating its quality, forming a thesis, outlining an argument, integrating evidence into that argument, and then receiving constructive feedback from teachers and classmates.

In the first school to pilot AverPoint Writer, Mr Serge Danielson-Francois has already redefined how he teaches essay writing. Instead of a few take-home essays a semester, they have redesigned class around a weekly SIP - or short integrated paper. The repetition is letting teachers advance writing skills in small steps. While their peers at other schools understand the world as presented on TikTok, these students are gaining the confidence to critically evaluate evidence, and create their own ideas.

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May 30, 2022
3 steps to tackling disinformation

AverPoint empowers informed citizens with 3 steps to tackling disinformation. We give you concrete actions that help you personally get better information, and also join a community that fixes the bigger problem. 

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May 19, 2022
Measured reading: Why should you log your news consumption?

Measured reading: Why should you log your news consumption?

AverPoint hit a milestone this month - every week for the past 4 weeks, our users logged 1,000 news articles and read for 1,000 minutes from high-quality sources (editor review, fact-check, retraction, and plagiarism). "Articles read" and "Minutes read" are 2 key metrics for AverPoint. These orient our product, content, and community towards an informed society. We’ll reveal more about our KPIs in a later post, but this milestone’s a good time to answer a question from many puzzled first time users. With disinformation causing so many urgent crises, why does AverPoint encourage you to measure your news reading

If you are exhausted by today’s information system, here’s why:

Today’s information system already tracks what you read, and uses this data to get your purchase, belief, or vote. Even if you block ads or cookies, it measures people very similar to you. This data suggests articles that, in a split-second newsfeed, will produce some form of engagement. It’s not optimized for you to learn, but for you to spend more time scrolling, liking, sharing, commenting, and raging. Let’s say you, like most people, want to learn and read substance. It’s hard to want the good stuff, because the system is optimized to make you want bad stuff. It’s not a town square that promotes a healthy exchange of ideas. It’s a mean street corner filled with drug dealers who know your deepest demons and darkest addictions. The information system is gamified against you.

We help you rewrite the rules of the information game so you want the good stuff. The first step is to measure what you read. Measured reading helps you and an informed society in 4 ways: 

1. Read with intention

As you read with our browser extension or in our mobile app, you are more conscious of what you choose to read. You are more aware when you are getting pulled into a news feed or a low-quality article. You stay in charge when you’re shown that polarizing, seductive headline. You choose to process the information, and not be led by a politician, advertiser, or algorithm’s motives.

2. Build healthy habits without a curriculum

Habits are powerful, easy to follow, and hard to break. Every product is using data, design, and psychology tricks to make it part of your daily routine. They use all kinds of techniques so you’ll subconsciously check their app or website. 

We’ll help you build the healthy information habits you choose to have - not habits programmed into you. It’s like turning a morning workout or smoothie into a habit. You don’t have to consciously decide - you just do the right thing. We’ll help you read every day from sources that meet a high-quality of editorial review, fact-checking, and retraction. (If you think this doesn’t go enough to review sources, we agree and hope to soon introduce a Wiki-like community review.) 

For now, as you read, we’ll help you make it a habit to do the following:

  • Read from multiple sources so you can view an issue through multiple lenses. 
  • Read about multiple topics, so you can be a full-rounded person. 
  • When you do read a lot about an important topic, read articles that send you up the learning curve… not down the rabbit hole.
  • Read across geographies.
  • Read your local paper.

Are we indoctrinating people with some kind of bias? These reading habits are not controversial and do not favor one party, race, religion, gender, etc. There’s no free speech vs content moderation debate. But the “curriculum” does make some judgments. It favors a more deliberate, thoughtful approach to consuming information. In that sense, we are building information habits that do have a bias… against the manipulators of bias. They will attack us as biased… because, when you build these good habits, you make it harder for demagogues to mobify you. 

3. Build active reading and critical thinking skills

Most content is passive consumption. On TV, you sit back, and follow the creators’ twists and turns. Social media seems a little more active than TV, but it’s not critical thinking. It’s designed for your fast brain, the part that turns sights and slogans into quick judgments. It’s a mob state where we’re fans in a stadium, liking and sharing narratives that support our bias, identity, and group.

AverPoint is building features that protect the more critical parts of your mind. When you track your reading behavior, you can see how often you looked up evidence, questioned claims, and requested an independent review.

4. Build an informed community

You also measure your reading so you can be part of an informed society. As you read, you contribute to our newsfeed - which ranks the articles that are getting read by active, balanced readers. This helps others find high-quality articles. When you meet the reading goals, you can also attend digital and in-person events where you can discuss and meet other informed citizens, neighbors, and co-workers.

As our community grows, our hope is to push important national debates in a positive way. To have influence, you have to know the substance about the topic. When citizens and leaders know the basic facts, they are much less polarized, and have more ability to compromise. 

The quality of these discussions will start to create rewards and social expectations that everyone is welcome to the debate… and there’s a fair price of admission. Do your reading.

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May 14, 2022
The Newsfeed Algorithm

The Algorithm

In our Channel page, you see a list of news articles that updates about once an hour. We want to be transparent about how we decide what articles to show you. 

3 Types of articles

You’ll see 3 types of articles in our newsfeed. Here's how each type is chosen.

1. Community picks

The newsfeed’s foundation is the AverPoint community. As our userbase grows, this will be the primary type of article. We rank articles that have been read by AverPoint users, and show the top ones. An article’s score is based on the number of minutes it has been read and who has read the article. Some examples:

  • If a level 1 user reads an article for 5 minutes, they add 5 to the article score.
  • If a level 2 user reads an article for 5 minutes, they 10 to the article score.

We do this to reward the articles that are getting read, not just clicked. And we reward users who are meeting our definition of healthy reading habits: reading from a healthy range of sources, topics, and geographies. And having a healthy mix of national, regional, and local reading.

2. Expert picks

Every week, we select a deep-dive topic and feature about 5 articles picked by the expert. We ask the expert to select 30 minutes of reading that would get a general reader up to speed on a new issue. This selections appear at the top of the news feed. If you read them, you'll be invited to a discussion with the expert.

3. AverPoint picks

Every morning, our software runs scripts for high-quality articles from AverPoint’s approved sources. Our team then selects about 20 articles for the newsfeed. This human curation, is admittedly, open to our own bias. We approve articles that

- Aim to educate more than outrage

- Are factual reporting or, if opinion, offer strong supporting evidence

- Add more than a small, incremental update

We generally reject articles if 

- The headline seems too polarizing or emotional

- The article is incremental (e.g., a small update)

- The article is a partisan op-ed piece

We do have a pro-democracy bias, so many of our articles tackle the state of democratic societies and competing systems.

Breadth vs depth

When we suggest articles, we aspire to balance breadth and depth. If you are not reading about a topic at all, we'll suggest entry level articles. If you are reading a lot about an article, we try to suggest next-level reads that will take you up the learning curve. We encourage you not to go down the rabbit hole, repeatedly reading the same narrative about the same topic.

How do we measure read time?

If you read with our browser extension, we measure each minute you are actively reading an article. It doesn't count if you just passively keep a page open. There are other ways to log an articles (share to the mobile app, email to [email protected]). But for these methods, we don't know how long you've read the article. Since we are limited to the extension, this ends up favoring people who read on a computer or laptop. In the future, we hope publishers will add our software to their native apps. This will allow more mobile reading to count. If you have influence at a publisher, please encourage them to integrate AverPoint.

What sources count?

We only consider articles in approved sources. Today, we approve sources if they have a process for editorial review, fact-checking, retraction, and plagiarism. We favor text over video or audio. Over time, we will have more of a living credential. Sources will have to maintain this credential by using our Credibility Layer. This requires transparency about evidence, opening claims up to community questions, and responding to both community and expert reviews. With more funding and a larger team, we'll shift to this more defensible and fair criteria. 

What topics count?

Today, we search for 7 broad topics (e.g. Economics, Health, Society). In the future, we have a more tailored taxonomy of 70 topics. As we grow (funding and curation team), we will be able to manage these additional topics. 

What topics don't count?

We don’t currently count games, recipes, and sports. We may, in the future, have separate sections for these popular articles.

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April 23, 2022
Safari extension for iPhone

Our browser extension now works on the Safari browser for iPhones! This means all the features for the computer now work on your iPhone, if you use Safari. Here are the instructions.

1. On your iPhone, go to the App store and install the AverPoint browser extension. There are 2 AverPoint apps, so make sure you get the extension.




2. Go to Settings -> Safari -> Extensions, and enable AverPoint.





3. Go to Settings -> Safari and scroll down to "Prevent Cross-Site Tracking." Disable this setting.





4. Go to Safari, and click the puzzle piece in the lower left corner. Select "Always Allow on Every Website."





5. Now, click the puzzle piece in the lower left corner and select AverPoint.





6. Log in with your username and password.





7. Click the puzzle piece. The AverPoint icon should be blue if you logged in successfully.





8. If your permissions are set to "Analyze my reading," we'll log articles in the background - just the computer browser extension.

9. If you turn on the "Crediblity Layer," you can interact with the articles: look up evidence, question claims, and request reviews.

10. If you enable the Creator role, you can save links, quotes, and images to your Research Collections.

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April 20, 2022
91 million barrels a day

America - and the world - need to lower gas prices to help working families, weaken Putin's war machine, and hold the free republic together. Most ideas today won't make a quick impact today. But if we coordinate a massive effort to reduce oil consumption, we can quickly lower the price of gas now. It's private sector innovation and the bottoms up action that'll get it done. But we need our leaders to coordinate and inspire an international effort. Watch our AverPoint video break it down.

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April 18, 2022
Ukraine-Russia: Nuclear Security

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has upended decades of nuclear security. Our speaker, Dakota Rudesill, is a nuclear security expert who has worked in the Obama Administration, US Senate, and US Court of Appeals. He now teaches at the Mershon Center at The Ohio State University. In our Clubhouse talk , Dakota defines 8 key terms of nuclear security, reviews the history of nuclear weapons, explains the authority of the US and Russian presidents, and finally discusses what indivduals can do in the case of a nuclear attack. 

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April 8, 2022
Ukraine-Russia: Russia and Nuclear Energy

Russia exports a third of the enriched uranium powering the world's nuclear plants. Russia also builds nearly all the new nuclear power facilities across the world, and designs these facilities to require Russian fuel and Russian-trained personnel. Alex Gilbert is an expert on nuclear power, and explains how to think about Russia's nuclear dominance and China's emerging influence. In our Clubhouse talk, Alex argues the US needs a national effort to enrich uranium and, more broadly, re-establish leadership in an industry America once dominated. 

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March 27, 2022
Ukraine-Russia: Putin and War Crimes with Rebecca Hamilton

Leaders around the world have called for trying Vladamir Putin for war crimes. In this Clubhouse talk , Rebecca Hamilton helps us first define international criminal law, what is it and how does it work? Then she defines two types of violations: aggression and war crimes. She then explains how user generated evidence affects today's courts - when is it admissible? Finally, she discusses Russia's invasion of Ukraine in context of other international law violations and the world's broader geopolitical currents.

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March 24, 2022
How to measure your newsreading

The first step on AverPoint is to measure what you read. We can then help you understand your trends, develop healthy information habits, and build media literacy skills. But you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

You can measure your newsreading 5 ways:

1) Browser extension on a computer: If you add the extension to your browser, we can log what you read in the background. We have extensions for the 4 major browsers: Chrome , Safari, Firefox , and Edge .  

2) Brower extension on a phone: Currently, you can add the browser extension to Safari for your mobile phone . Unfortunately, the other browsers don't allow extensions on the phone. (We've built a Firefox extension and it's approved, but there's no way for users to download it.)

3) Email: Send a link to [email protected]

4) App: Share a link to the iPhone or Android app

5) Channel: Click a link in the Channel Page

6) Weekly email: Click a link in your weekly readings

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March 19, 2022
Understanding Ukraine-Russia: Europe's Energy Strategy

This Saturday's deep-dive is on European Energy Strategy : Russia supplies 45% of Europe's natural gas and 27% of Europe's oil, while Russian oil and gas profits fuel Putin's war machine and pension regime. What can Europe do now?

Three European energy experts lead our discussion:

- Alan Riley (Atlantic Council)

- Margarita Balmaceda (Harvard, Seton Hall)

- Benjamin L. Schmitt, Ph.D. (Harvard, Center for European Policy Analysis)

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March 12, 2022
Understanding Ukraine-Russia: Russian (Dis)Information

AverPoint and Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute host a weekly deep-dive on the Ukraine-Russia war. This week, we focus on Russian Disinformation . Dr Hannah Chapman, an expert on Russian information war, discusses: 1. The Russian information landscape throug history 2. Contemporary media landscape 3. Protests in Russia 4. Political psychology. 

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March 7, 2022
Statement on Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

There are many ways to view the war: Ukraine vs Russia, Western Europe vs Eastern Europe, Democracy vs Autocracy, or the American-led order vs the emerging multi-polar world. Ultimately, it’s the oldest battle in the book: truth vs lies.

AverPoint means the “place to aver,” a space where you assert something to be true. Our mission is to empower free individuals and communities to find this place, the truth, in today’s age of disinformation. We’re a news app that helps individuals build their media literacy skills and navigate today’s information crisis. That information crisis, unraveling free societies around the world, was accelerated in many ways by Vladamir Putin.

Since the early 2000s, he concluded his only way to counter the universal values of the American-led order was to attack the idea of truth itself. If free citizens can’t figure out what’s real and what’s false, they can’t form a shared reality with people who look, speak, or pray in different ways. Confused and scared, they’ll shrug at the world’s chaos and seek the protection of their tribal strongman.

Over the past decade, the rise of populist autocrats in America, India, Brazil, central Europe, the Philippines, Myanmar, and more has shown the awesome power of the tribe. Their democratic backslide moves them closer to authoritarian China, the theocratic states of the Islamic world, and other places where freedom was never firm and “truth” was enforced by the state. We’re seeing in plain sight something we hate to admit: one’s particular race, culture, tradition, and loyalty to local hierarchy can easily overwhelm one’s reason and faith in universal values.

Putin knew that a post-Soviet Russia couldn’t directly dominate the world, but he could help fragment the connected, universal world into small, regional powers. To attack the idea of universal truth, the glue that connects the free citizens of the free world, he developed the digital disinformation playbook. He refined it first on his own citizens, then the smaller post-soviet republics, and eventually in Ukraine. Then he expanded to western Europe, America, and beyond.

The playbook was much less about censoring information, and much more about exploiting the free world’s open information systems - suddenly made more open by the internet. They took the age-old techniques of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to undermine the authenticity of any message and every legitimate source, replacing one common reality with many tribal realities. The Russian military perfected digital techniques to first understand each person’s biases, and to then, using armies of both bots and human trolls, intensify these biases. The playbook found allies and users in each country, summoning nativist movements as shortcuts to political power.

But this playbook has a fatal flaw: free individuals can choose not to be deceived. They can understand the techniques of propaganda: confirmation bias, tribal bias, and amygdala hijack. They can choose to become “media literate” on the open internet, even without the guardrails of top-down gatekeepers. They can build habits to consume healthy information and the skill to critically evaluate information. Ukrainians and many of their neighbors in the Baltic states have shown they are no longer prey to the disinformants’ playbook. They navigated the false flag operations, false claims of peaceful “military exercises,” false historical narratives, and more. They learned to evaluate information, and find reality. They inspire our efforts to build the news experience and tools that help both individuals and communities become resilient to lies.

AverPoint stands firmly with Ukraine, and we stand firmly with truth as the only basis for a free, peaceful, and prosperous world.

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March 5, 2022
Understanding Ukraine-Russia: Russia's "Grand Strategy"

What are Putin's motives? How does Russia's invasion of Ukraine fit into its "grand strategy"? How will Western sanctions affect this grand strategy? West Point's Rob Person has studied these questions for 20 years, and leads this week's deep dive on Clubhouse

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February 26, 2022
Understanding Ukraine-Russia: The Military Dimension

This week, Vladamir Putin gave two speeches describing his worldview, and then began an all-out invasion of Ukraine. Brigadier-General Kevin Ryan (US Army, ret) and former Green Beret George LeMeur help us understand the military dimension . They summarize the military actions of the first 3 days of fighting, explain how to think about the two militaries, and then discuss the modernizations of both miltaries since Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea.

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February 18, 2022
Understanding Ukraine-Russia: A Thousand Years of History

In our third deep-dive on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Harvard's Emily Channell-Justice and UPenn's Kim St Julian-Varnon cover over 1,000 years of history . Putin's historical narrative emphasizes the Ukraine and Russia's shared past, and he's previously said Ukraine's not a real country. Our experts explain how Ukraine was shaped by many cultures long before Russia was a country. When Russia did control Ukraine, that experience included many tragedies that are buried deep in Ukraine's memory. 

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February 12, 2022
Understanding Ukraine-Russia: The NATO Question

In our second deep-dive on Ukraine-Russia, Harvard's Emily Channell-Justice explains a key question fueling the conflict: Ukraine's potential membership in NATO

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February 5, 2022
Understanding Ukraine-Russia: Ukraine-Russia 101

In our first deep-dive on Ukraine-Russia, Dr. Emily Channel-Justice from Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute lays out the 4 key themes to understand about the conflict

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January 28, 2022
Ukraine-Russia Series

The Ukraine-Russia conflict makes daily news, and also dates back over 1,000 years. AverPoint and Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute are teaming up with Clubhouse to host a weekly fact-based discussion to understand the complex struggle.

Each week, experts will post 3 to 5 articles on AverPoint about the ongoing conflict. On Saturdays, we'll host a Clubhouse discussion focused on the readings. We'll understand the perspectives of the key players - and tackle the history, geopolitics, economic, social, military, and more.

Let's show the world that informed, free societies can still function.

Sign up here to get an invite.

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January 28, 2022
Extension on all 4 browsers!

AverPoint’s extension was approved on the 4 major browsers! You can now use AverPoint on Chrome , Safari , Firefox , and Edge . This represents about 94 percent of internet users who read through a computer. 

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January 7, 2022
Every day is January 7th now

The New York Times ran an editorial this week titled, “Every day is January 6th now,” and argued we are in a constant battle of free vs authoritarian societies. But, if we live in a constant state of battle, the authoritarians still win. When we’re in a threat mindset, we don’t have the space for deliberation, conversation, reflection, and curiosity. We feel scared or angry, and we chant slogans and push policies that don’t solve our problems. The real antidote to January 6th is not constant political war, but an optimistic, assertive movement to fix what has broken. 

Every day is January 7th now. We have to acknowledge the relentless, multiyear disinformation campaign has penetrated the minds of 1 in 3 Americans. There is indeed a dark movement to dim our universal light. But we have to remember this republic was forged in the cradle of Enlightenment. It’s our birth right - our tradition - to seek knowledge, learning, and progress. The Founders, the Constitution, our heritage, and our history are with US.

Everyday is January 7th now, and everyone must ask how they’ll help restore the republic and free societies in the internet age. We want to contribute. Our focus is on helping individuals build the skills and habits to consume high-quality information. And also the skills and habits to reject low-quality information. Let’s build a culture that rewards knowledge, reading multiple perspectives, asking questions, and critically thinking. 

To that end, we launched a new product this week.

It’s like a Fitbit for your newsreading. 

If you read on a computer, you can sign up here 

If you read on an iPhone, you download here.  

If you feel exhausted by the news - and feel like it just sucks you into a vortex of rage, we’re trying to build you a solution. We help you track what you read across your devices, set goals, and improve your information consumption. We also suggest 20 to 30 articles a day that will help you up the learning curve... not down the rabbit hole.

We’ll help you avoid the constant drama, and do the following

- Read from high-quality sources every day - sources that have editors and fact-checkers who get fired if they lie.

- Read from multiple sources to get different points of view, so you break your liberal or conservative bubble.

- Read from multiple topics so you know more than one narrow thing.

- Read from multiple places, so you broaden your perspective.

- Read about your own town - not just the national headlines.

- Read longer - not just skimming headlines.

- Question what you read.

- Evaluate the evidence in what you read.

And we work with partners who reward you for doing the hard work of staying informed.

The solution is to promote a culture of light, not rage.

Every day is January 7th now.

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November 13, 2021
News analytics: A Fitbit for news reading.

Today, we're announcing our News Analytics feature! Think of it like a Fitbit for news reading. We'll measure what you read in the background, summarize your reading trends, and recommend ways you can consume better information. With more awareness of what you're choosing to read, you can be a more productive individual and more informed citizen.

It's responding to something we're hearing from all corners: people are exhausted by today's news experience. They're constantly reacting to random slices of information: alerts, emails, texts, news feeds, and the drama of cable news. These slices trigger a threat state, paralyzing our minds from learning about complex issues like climate change, semiconductors, or artifical intelligence. We can solve problems staring us in the face, like homelessness and inequality, but only if we can think straight.

Our news analytics helps you add up your newsreading, identify gaps, and more proactively choose what you read. Your information consumption becomes your choice. It energizes you more, and exhausts you less. 

Here's how it works...

Every week, you'll get a report that summarizes your newsreading. You get a high level snapshot of the sources, topics, and geographies you're reading throughout the day.


As you get a sense of your current state, you can also set reading goals. For example, I realized I was defaulting to the same 2 sources for almost all my news consumption - and have made a goal to read at least 4 different sources a day. We also set community goals. At Level 1, we encourage you to read a high-quality source every day, read a wide range of sources every week, and get a healthy mix of topics and geographies. Once you hit these goals, you advance to Level 2, where you unlock some of AverPoint's more advanced features. (We'll introduce these in a separate post.)


So how do you track your newsreading? You can log your news consumption in 4 ways.

1. When you install our Chrome extension , we log news articles from about 1,800 American and 70 international news sites. It all happens in the background, like wearing a FitBit.

2. You can read articles suggested on your AverPoint Channel. You can access these from the web app or the mobile app. These are our suggestions for the day, based on your newsreading.

3. You can email an article to [email protected] from the email you used to sign up. Just paste the link in the email body.

4. You share an article to our mobile app, just like you share links to Twitter or Facebook.

Give it a try, and let us know how it affects your news reading!

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November 10, 2021
The Misinformation Age: How false beliefs spread.

Cailin O'Connor and her colleage James Owen Weatherall wrote "The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread." Most conversations about misinformation focus on individual psychological failures, like confirmation bias or amygdala hijack. O'Connor, however, focuses on knowledge networks - how information spreads through networks. Her models show that, even in networks or rational and evidence based individuals, misinformation can spread and stand firm in the face of overwhelming evidence. She then explains how propagandists use subtle techniques to manipulate knowledge networks, further spreading misinformation across both science and broader public. Finally, we discuss what science, media, and the public at large should do given these insights.

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March 24, 2021
The Epistemic Crisis: How can we believe each other?

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Collective Intelligence: How can we make each other smarter?

Douglas Guilbeault at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley discusses collective intelligence, how groups can learn from each other to improve their beliefs. He reviews his experiments on social networks, testing if and when individuals learn from both peers and strangers. These ideas resonate with AverPoint's belief in community reviews to increase trust on the decentralized internet.

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January 31, 2021
Disinformation and Innovation

AverPoint founder Shouvik Banerjee spoke to the Mays Innovation Research Center at Texas A&M about innovating solutions to our information crisis. The talk explored the historical and psychological reasons disinformation spreads, and how we can learn from past generations to develop solutions to meet the current challenge.

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