HOW TO EVALUATE WEB INFORMATION – 2

Intro:

After writing the PART 1 post on HOW TO EVALUATE WEB INFORMATION
http://lowertownstpaulmn.com/2016/08/evaluate-web-information/ I felt that I had not quite gotten across the sorry state of valid web information today. Let me try to make things a bit more clear.

The Additional Consideration:

All of us who use the web are faced with unprecedented amounts of both accurate information and outright propaganda. The trick is to be able to distinguish between the true and not true.

First let’s look at some definitions:

  1. Information: Knowledge acquired in any manner; facts; data; learning; lore. Does not necessarily connote validity.
  2. Misinformation: Incorrect, inaccurate, distorted, would-be information, not necessarily given with the purpose of misleading the user.
  3. Disinformation: Inaccurate information intentionally delivered with the purpose of misleading the user.
  4. Propaganda: The systematic, widespread dissemination of particular ideas or doctrines to damage an opposing view. Used disparagingly with deception or distortion. Usually appealing to emotion rather than reason.

As you can see from the above definitions, the differences between misinformation and disinformation is mostly one of intent. A cynic would say that a lot of advertising falls into the second and third definitions with the addition of the emotional plea.

Being able to discern the intent of the author and their sponsor is a learned skill. It requires repeated research into the material and the methods used to disseminate it.

A lot can be learned from researching the sponsor. Remember, follow the money, i.e. who profits from the dissemination of the information.

Use the materials on evaluation from Part 1.

At a minimum, use my recommended everyday guidelines for evaluation of web information.

Do not repeat anything that cannot be verified. Be both accurate and ethical.

References from Part 1.

The links to resources on evaluation of information have a lot of links to additional help. They are so valuable that I’m repeating them here.

Olin & Uris Libraries at Cornell University
http://olinuris.library.cornell.edu

Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/553/01/

Southern Illinois University, School of Law Library
http://www.law.siu.edu/lawlib/

Meriam Library at California State University at Chico
http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/how.html

Again, the recommendations stand for you budding writers: please download guidelines from one of the academic libraries and read them thoroughly. I recommend the OWL site at Purdue University as the most complete and informative sites for both research and writing skill building.

Conclusions:

The search for and reuse of information from the web is not an easy task if you want to remain as a person who passes on valid information. Use the sources of help that are also available on the web, primarily from the academic libraries. Also, look to your local library for help. They may have subscriptions to the paid databases from the invisible web.

Next:

The next post will bring you back to the library. It’s definitely not the same place that it was 20 years ago.

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