Having quick access to information can make life quite easy! I say this, because not all information you find on digital media sources can be trusted. The one way you can assess the value of the information is to perform research on the information offered or cross-reference the information you find. Since anyone can post anything on the Internet, it is best to identify the author and research the author’s credentials. This week I was researching information on the Internet about the digital divide. The search pulled up more than 50 pages of web links multiplied by 13 web links per page.
Most of the populated information, was outdated, not that out dated information is not useful; however, I was able to find 10 web links that were dated recently enough for me to use. Over the years, I have become more literate regarding digital media and been able to distinguish the difference between blog, chat room, substantive and opinionated sites. Understanding how to identify bias statements and identify the facts as it relates, is one way to look at the information provided with a critical eye.
Some websites the author, tries to influence their readers by taking a bias approach to persuade the reader’s thoughts on a particular subject, in these instances you are not receiving a balanced viewpoint, however; this is not always bad, especially when it comes to researching on personal viewpoints. Understanding the reliability and credibility of information might be as simple as knowing the domain. Domains can clue you in on the type of information and where the information originated.
For instance, if I am looking for information on taxes, I would find correct answers on IRS. gov instead of IRS. com. It is safe to assume that IRS. gov is a reliable website as the government is the creator, on the other hand, IRS. com shows me similar information, however, it contains advertisements and a direct link to the IRS official’s website. Although both websites look familiar and offer alike information I find it better to get the answers straight from the horse’s mouth.
To find and tilize the information, I need to use a critical eye and cross-reference the information found. Another instance is watching the different news stations on TV and understanding the affiliation they may have with other TV stations. For example, I may be watching a national news program MSNBC stock’s banner, which mentions how Comcast’s stocks are on the rise; this might be to persuade viewers to invest in their stock; however, I am also aware that Comcast recently purchased NBC and its affiliated stations.
Now that I understand the possible bias approach, I am more inclined to research the fact prior to purchase their stock. The next time you walk into your local food store, view the magazines and newspapers. You should already be aware of the tabloids that give a reader inaccurate information and normally lack the author’s bio or credentials. The Internet can be like a magazine stand! Because of net neutrality, the lack of restrictions enables anyone to upload any kind of information, whether is true or false. We find ourselves arguing the two extremes!
On one hand if a private enterprise wants to control the Internet, we would find that information would be shared for a price which limits free speech, however, if we allow the government to control what is shared on the Internet we may be left with what the government finds deem able. Both extremes limit our freedom when it comes to the Internet! As to your last question concerning the digital divide; it means the gap between those who have access to this media and those who do not. This divide affects many Americans whom either have no access to digital and media social websites or chooses not to have any involvement with it.
They lack the basic understanding of digital media, and/or how to utilize the information. To bridge the gap, we have already started by providing free Internet access in our schools and libraries. This would allow for people with limited resources to become media literate. I believe that this free service can help bridge the gap to help the illiterate understand the differences between facts vs. propaganda. Because of the misuse on the Internet and the increased marketing from companies, I would find these classes useful for those with limited understanding of the Internet.