Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Crank in the Basement

Jason’s blog about democracy and blogging reminds me of my favorite illustration from teaching. Yes, the internet opens up the political process to many who may not have been able to fully participate before. It also opens up what I like to call Crank in the Basement. While many bloggers will fact-check and print mistakes when they are pointed out, many also will not. Young people, who are often using the internet as their only source of new information may very well be taken in by the Crank in the Basement, who uses the internet as his own personal bully pulpit for conspiracy theories, propaganda or whatever Cranks in the Basement want to write about.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you calling Jason a Crank in the Basement?!?! Hehehehe.

Sadly,.......we knew all along...........

sapsparky said...

maybe, and maybe not. the blog format does allow for access that has never existed. immediate, and for the time being, free. on top of that, if a blog decides to stray into the conspiracy theory, propaganda, it is easy enough for any reader to quickly and easily fact check against any number of sources. just think back to how you had to work on a paper in middle school (topic.......library.....obscure books......etc..) and think about how you do research now. add in upcoming resources as googles full book text search and other completely accessible formats, and you can envision how your crank in the basement anology will not hold up in the new information schema. if a page is full of crap, it will begin to be passed over. but hey, what do i know. i'm just a crank in the basement.

Jenn said...

Just for the record, I'm not calling Jason a Crank in the Basement. To his point however, while people CAN fact check (and smart, well informed people like Jason will) most people will not fact check. After teaching freshman for a year, I have personal experience with what people will believe because it is on the internet, and it's not pretty.

Jenn said...

Plus, it's not the pages that are full of crap that are of concern. It's the pages that are mostly ok and "seem ok" that most easily mislead.

sapsparky said...

yeah, i don't think that a lot of people will fact check, but a lot of people would have never fact checked before. just as i'm sure that many people online read crap, many read crap in the print media. aren't something like 3 of the 10 largest papers in the world rags like the star or world news gossip mags? there is just a large percentage of the population that will read crap and gossip no matter the format. i'm just all for making the format better and more accessible for those of us who want to have the knowledge.

Jenn said...

I have to agree that for the average reader, blogging opens up crazy new avenues for news dissemination. My concern is not for the non-scholarly readership. While the way we used to do research was not perfect, and goodness knows enough crap got published, there was at least another layer of review before it was published. The internet doesn't provide that review ... by anyone in most cases. The fact that more and more scholarly research is being moved online may make the point irrelevant. For the time being however, I think young people should learn that all sources are not created equally and should don extra skepticism with web sources.

 
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