The Online Journalism Review has an interview up with Dan Gillmor, author of “We the Media…” which if you haven’t read yet you should. The book is a great primer for the changes that we’re going to have to prepare our students for, changes that are becoming more profound each day.
Since I think a lot about how we teach our students to find and read good sources of information, I find it particularly interesting when Gillmor talks about blog reputation systems.
You learn what you can trust and what you can’t. I don’t think anyone picking up any publication or going to a site for the first time should automatically trust it. If I’m directed there by Doc Searls I will give it an automatic boost in trust before I start — not complete trust, but Doc has a lot of credibility with me. That’s part of what’s emerging as a sort of free-floating reputation system that will help us find the best sites to go to. It would be wonderful if journalism organizations would point to blogs and say, “Don’t make any crucial life decisions based on what you read here, check things out, but this looks pretty good.”
I think that this is already happening, that the more reputable sites are already being filtered and identified in a variety of ways. And those sites then nurture the reputations of others and so on. It’s definitely a different model from the past where I used to pretty much point to the New York Times, the Washington Post and a few others and say “this is probably as close to the truth as you’re going to get.” Now it’s more like use them as a starting point, but find other sources from other mediums and define truth for yourself.
And it’s back to readers needing to be editors.
But the burden is also on readers/listeners/viewers. They MUST start being more skeptical, and people of whatever political or social persuasion should constantly realize that people are trying to spin them.
It’s pretty amazing to me how little it seems schools are understanding the importance of this. (Maybe it’s just me.) But with the pace of change in education, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.