Critical Thoughts on Attention, Crap Detection and Participation in Digital Media
Posted by aliciaryoung
As I begin to write this blog, I am already distracted by several tabs open on my browser, an audible ring of a new text message, and a calendar reminder that my favorite radio program begins in five minutes. Carr in Net Smart (Rheingold, 2012) explains these interruptions or distractions are causing us to lose “deep, sustained focus” (p. 52). These distractions or lack of attention are dissuading our intention to achieve a goal, in this case, write this blog.
Rheingold uses Sherry Turkle’s 15 years of research to amass ways to become more mindful of how we’re using digital media and participating in online activities. Although he cites research that our use of digital media is detrimental to society and weakens our capacity to think critically, he also provides solutions to increase our aptitude and critical thinking skills.
Learning how to be a Crap Detective
Reading Rheingold’s (2012) chapter about deciphering websites’ credibility supports my pet peeve of friends believing and sharing fake news stories and Facebook privacy policies. The proliferation of false news stories promotes our own inability to think about the content’s truthfulness and impact to others. I refer to Snopes.com to determine whether a story is true or not and post the link online. I have recently read several posts about Facebook releasing all our personal information and photos. This was crap four years ago and people are still sharing it. I re-shared the truth via Snopes.com and warned my friends that I would stop following their feeds if they continued to post the crap.
Eight years ago I worked for an online media startup where we used SEO to get a website to rank authentically within the first three pages of Google, but Rheingold suggests that we look beyond the first 30 search results to find more credible websites. Does this mean the crappy spam sites are doing a better job of SEO than the credible counterparts?
Other sites to determine the validity of digital content are FactCheck.org, and NewsTrust.net. Note the url extension as well this is one predictor of reliable information; however, any website can choose a .org or .net, but .edu or .gov. The latter two must be verified an educational institution or government entity.
There are multiple levels of participatory engagement from reading content, sharing a link, interactive gaming sites, “likes” to clicking on a hypertext link. How we participate also contributes to how we curate content. Rheingold (2012) explained, “The voluntary curation contribution of every person who ever puts a link on a Web site, blog, or tweet is what enables Google to…rank the sites in order of popularity” (p.127). And with that popularity, we provide information that becomes a powerful dictator of knowledge or stupidity.
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