August 19, 2006

Determining Truth and Loose Change

We all know how critical it is for us to demonstrate to students the importance of truth and accuracy in blogging and in more importantly in life. It’s been both humbling and powerful to watch Will deal with the issue of not using primary sources as well as not citing sources. Will was very forthright in his errors and even thanked those who called him out.
Darren recently discovered the truth about the South African wiki project that many of us, including me have been touting.

But the truth is not only hard, it’s time consuming. I’m staying at a good friend’s house and he asked me to watch a documentary he downloaded called “Loose Change“. I had never heard of it but I’m assuming many of my American friends have. Basically it’s a conspiracy theory about 9/11 pointing to the possibility that the US was actually behind the terrorists acts. Very compelling and raises some interesting questions.

After watching, I immediately headed to wikipedia to see what else it had to say. As I figured, it offered not only a summary but criticisms and links to other sources. I don’t plan on delving to deeply into this but was pleased to know there were many places to look for truth. I could see this being a powerful lesson for students to engage in and research. David Warlick’s been advocating this type of use for wikipedia and has always believed this is how we need to deal with the information.

It’s one thing to read something and be confronted with an idea to be believed or not, but when it’s presented in video format, it’s even more compelling and easier to believe. That’s why we want our students to be adept at using this medium. They need to understand how to use images, sounds and mix them together to tell powerful stories; stories that are meant to express ideas and persuade an audience. Having some experience in creating these messages will serve them well when viewing them.
Being able to determine truth ican be very difficult and requires time and effort. This type of research would be all but impossible without tools like wikipedia. Wikipedia provides a much more unbias view that commercial sites or personal sites offer. The fact it points away from itself and lists 41 references and over 30 external links makes me feel fairly confident I’m going to be in for a good workout should I choose to pursue the truth. We know that students often are uninterested in the rigors of research but I’m sure that when it comes to issues that matter most, truth is worth pursuing.
If you haven’t watched this video, you should. Not because you’ll agree or disagree but because you’ll be curious to find the truth.

I love the warning at the beginning of the video encouraging the distribution and viewing. Very FLOSS.