Truth is so important, yet so vulnerable to being compromised especially in a virtual environment. An absence of truth leads to misinformation and, if discovered, suspicion. The latest series of readings (if they are to be believed) do much to support this and have provided me with some very useful advice that I will share here.
1) Wikipedia’s idea of truth is not necessarily fact, even when apparently referenced
There was little doubt in my mind that the methods used by Wikipedia authors could not be taken seriously by academics, despite much research that has found the web site to be mostly accurate on common knowledge subjects. But what was most interesting (and alarming) about ‘Wikipedia and the meaning of truth,’ was what it had to say about how Wikipedia authors provide ‘proof’ that what they have written is fact. Although there are recommend kinds of references and some order of hierarchy over which of those is to be trusted more, essentially if you have can provide an online reference that supports your case that cannot be refuted by another, that’s good enough. If however you or your work is the subject of the article, first hand experience is not an acceptable argument if published material gets it wrong and differs from your point of view. While I can understand that this is designed to protect the site from personal bias it also shows how vulnerable Wikipedia is to inaccuracy on subjects that aren’t already common knowledge.
2) Twitter posts can easily hide their true meaning
I’m still new to Twitter, still learning about its eccentricities, so it was quite informative to read about a different side of the popular micro-blogging tool in ‘Detecting spam in a Twitter network.’ Because the ‘success’ of a post in the Twitter environment is measured on how many people read it, users have developed a method for being heard by exploiting hashtag trends in an attempt to make it into the most feeds of others. But marketers and spammers also use these hashtag trends and can exploit the system in clever ways to make their posts appear innocuous.
The lesson from both of these messages is that greater scrutiny is required when seeking authentic information within a socially networked world.