Fixing Disinformation: Some Ideas

May 3, 2021

I read “2021 Rockman Award Winner Interview: Alison J. Head, Barbara Fister, and Margy MacMillan.” This was positioned as an interview, but it seems more like a report to a dean or provost to demonstrate “real” work in a critical academic niches. There were some interesting statements in the “interview.” For instance, here’s the passage I noted about helping students (people) think about the accuracy of information presented online:

Improve understanding of how a wider array of information, particularly the news, is produced and disseminated (beyond discussions of the peer review process), and (2) develop more reflective information habits that consider their roles as consumers, curators and creators of news, the relationships between news media and audiences, and the wider process through which media and society shape each other.

There were some statements in the article/interview which caught my attention. Here’s are a few examples:

  • They [students] didn’t believe their teachers had kept up with technological developments, including algorithms and tracking
  • … we [the researchers] were cheered by how deeply interested students were in learning more about what we have called the “age of algorithms”
  • Faculty interviews, too, suggested both a high degree of concern about algorithmic information systems and they had a desire for someone on campus to step up and take on a challenge they felt unequipped to tackle.
  • … students were often more aware of algorithms than faculty…

Net net: Neither students nor teachers are exactly sure about the online information disinformation, misinformation or info-reformation processes to use to figure out what’s accurate, what’s not, and what’s manipulation.

How does one guide students if faculty are adrift?

Stephen E Arnold, May 3, 2021


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