The section of Net Smart I chose to focus on was Chapter 2, “Crap Detection 101.” It covered how people can be fooled by the internet every day and the easy ways to get around it. For example, Rheingold laid out a scenario where his daughter was using an internet search engine to help her with her homework. Rheingold’s reservation was that things being posted on the internet are not subject to a governing body verifying the information. He explained that in his day you had to go to the library and check out a book and/or magazine and with those two texts you could be reasonably certain someone had verified the information (although not totally certain). He gave the example of searching MLK which lead to a website giving the historical significance of MLK that seemed legit until you researched the author only to find out he has been pegged by many as a racist, which obviously poses a large problem to the author’s credibility. Another example was when a public relations person was hired by different industries to make phony websites spinning information in a way that was favorable to their sales, regardless of truth.
This is a problem I as well as other people run into daily, but don’t really think twice about. Everyone has their own go to sources for news, whether that be the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, or the New York Times, sources we know to be credible because of their past reputation. When we see news elsewhere, such as twitter, we automatically go to one of our trusted sources to confirm or deny the allegations. Although I could see how being fooled would be a problem in the realm of research, more specifically in a category that was new and/or had little information. For example, the current Bitcoin phenomena is something that nobody really knows much about and has many bogus articles and information claiming that the Bitcoin is actually a recognized currency.
This section of the book relates to Rheingold’s underlying theme of being mindful when using the internet. Things change so quickly online that if you do not cover your bases and think logically through what is happening you can become lost and worst of all duped by incorrect information that could cause you to enter credit card information on a phony site and have your identity stolen.
I wonder how long on average people spend checking the credibility of information or if they just tend to take it at face value? Does it depend on the information being looked up?