At your fingertips: A world of misinformation

It is commonly said that we are living in the Information Age. Most of this has to do with the proliferation of the Internet, and more specifically perhaps, the world wide web. Because of sites like Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and a hundred more popular sites, anything you want to know, and everything you don’t, is immediately accessible. It seems that people have a insatiable desire for more information.

What is so disturbing, however, is the lack of quality information. It’s one thing to find information, it is an entirely different matter to find facts. The fastest-spreading and most forwarded information is generally emails that are proven to be hoaxs, urban myths or smears. I suppose the political race has really been an eye-opener in terms of realizing just how much misinformation is available.

It used to be that most people conducted their research in the corridors of some dimly lit library. This was a method that favored excellence over speed. There is something to be said about studies and findings in printed form, in that the tangibility factor gives it a certain “provenness.” Of course, there is a certain truth to this when you consider the time and money that is required to produce the publications available in a library, as opposed to a web page that anyone can make in little time with minimal to no expense.

Today, however, most people don’t venture past the first few search results in Google, or worse yet, Wikipedia. I do realize that these tools can be helpful, and I even use them myself. However, I have found consistently that error abounds in the freely promulgated findings available online.

Just one more vote for traditional print media.

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