Who Is Your Source?
Web 2.0 encompasses all of our social media connections: blogging, YouTube, Facebook, Wikepedia…. In the Keen Vs. Weinberger argument (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB118460229729267677), we see two very different versions of what the prevalence of social media communication and internet access to information means.
Mr. Weinberger argues that while much of the information and opinions we see on the internet are not churned through some sort of “truth wringer,” we do have the power to determine if a specific source is reliable. “Where” we go on the internet and “whose” opinion we are reading, is a filter of sorts.
This new media can be viewed contextually and is every bit as reliable as traditional media, when we apply a clear filter. As readers, we are capable of applying that filter on our own.
Mr. Keen’s response makes me feel like I am a child and he is a parent chastising me. He confuses the amount of communication that goes on via the internet, as equating with it being “garbage.” The abundance, according to Mr. Keen, renders is a virtual wasteland. He leaves me feeling that I am too stupid to edit through internet information. He doesn’t trust my own sensibilities in seeking (and judging) the information I come across.
Personally, I love books and magazines. My house is overflowing with “traditional media.” I have never been able to make that transition to paperless reading. I don’t want to see books vanish forever. I get the value and merit of traditionally published medias. I know that the information has been filtered through an editor and the facts reviewed. I agree that I am less likely to run across inaccurate information when I pick up something published through a traditional source. However, I agree with Mr. Weinberger’s comment that I can easily access an encyclopedia if I need to be assured of “facts.”
The internet allows us to be as “intellectually diverse,” to borrow a phrase from Mr. Keene, as we choose to be. Mr. Keene’s summary of the internet and our ability to assimilate knowledge from it, seems to completely absolve the reader from having any intelligence in the matter. My “take away” from his response? We are all too dumb to navigate the internet on our own, and assess the value of what we are reading.
I regularly scan Facebook to see what is going on for the people in my “Friends” list. At no time, do I assume any of them to be experts though. What my mother writes about politics is different from what I read in a New York Times post. Goodness, what my mom posts is very different than what my super smart and educated older brother posts! I understand who the writer is and I value their credibility in light of that. Having access to so many opinions and people’s take on life, is part of the value that the internet and our communication through it holds. The internet is an intrinsic part of our world and I believe most of us, growing up with the internet, have developed a filter, with which we take in the information. It is an organic part of growing up in an age that is technologically centered!
Clearly, I lean towards Mr. Weinberger’s views on this subject. As a reader, I can discern what is of value and what is accurate. As Mr. Weinberger points out, the amateur’s voice still has value and can provide worthwhile content. Further, I like that there are so many voices at my disposal. If I am not educated by someone’s writing, then I am entertained or at least encouraged to consider the topic more deeply. If none of these occur, then I simply discard what I read as irrelevant. I appreciate getting information from varied sources, even if they are subjective or lack scholarly editing. My intellect is an adequate editor!