As children we were promised flying cars, hoverboards, and conveyor belts to shower and dress us each morning. Until now, you’d be forgiven if you were disappointed that all we’ve gotten so far are increasingly sophisticated ways to argue with strangers and hail rides. Library Extension, the browser tool that gives you a heads up when your local library has the book you’re about to buy, changes everything.
A version of this post appeared in the New York Times Magazine, 14 May, 2017.
Sean Spicer's recent gaffe-riddled press briefing provides a real-time lesson in how the fake news sausage gets made. On Tuesday the White House Press Secretary made a series of what could optimistically be called “misstatements” about Adolf Hitler, concentration camps, and the use of chemical weapons in WWII. What followed is the new normal for 2017: a flood of fake news reports were generated, then shared on social media until it became difficult to discern which Spicer quotes were real and which had been fabricated.
One of the more heartening things to come of the past few months is that information literacy (along with media and digital literacy) has really come into its own as a mainstream topic. While talk of it used to reside mostly in niche library listservs, websites, and conferences, now it’s everywhere. Fake news may be responsible for many things, but its proliferation also seems to have spiked an interest in information literacy.
Over the weekend, one of Donald Trump’s senior advisors rejected the premise that the president and his press secretary were spreading falsehoods about attendance at Friday’s inauguration. Kellyann Conway said that they were sharing “alternative facts,” a term that drew befuddled laughter from her interviewer.
If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that information literacy is a critical ingredient in informed democracies, but that we have a long way to go in building that skill across our population. As we look ahead to the coming year, we tried to ascertain what themes would emerge in the library field as a response to the rapidly-changing landscape. Here are 3 emerging trends we’re seeing that warrant attention in 2017:
After two weeks of following the story of Macedonian “fake news” sites and Facebook’s editorial responsibilities, we wanted to discuss the fact that fake news is only part of the problem. Discerning real information from biased misinformation is a growing challenge in the 21st century.
A growing number of Americans are getting their news from social media (Pew Research Poll), and increasingly, disreputable news sites are using these platforms to distribute fake news for financial profit. A key tenet of information literacy has always been the ability to evaluate sources, however the increased sophistication of fake news sites means that this skill is more important than ever.
A growing number of Americans are getting their news from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter according to a recent poll from Pew Research. At the same time, NPR and others are reporting this month that a proliferation of fake news sites have to come into being that use the viral nature of social media to drive ad revenue.
According to a report form the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, "nearly 60% of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies."