SFGate, a newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area, published Howard Rheingold’s article “Crap Detection 101” which was written to protect the future of knowledge. It sheds light on the issue of Internet detection that is prevalent today, yet people don’t understand its harm. This article should be interpreted in a positive way, for it does not look past the success of the Internet and the search engine, but is trying to teach people to be cautious and not take information literacy for granted.
Rheingold has an extensive resume formally working as a professor at UC Berkley, an editor of reviews and catalogs, an executive editor of Hotwire and the author of books, one including “Tools for Thought: The history and Future of Mind Expanding Technology”. His focus and passion is knowledge, and he believes that our future depends on how one utilizes a search engine to retain important information, rather than spam or garbage. Rheingold says the first question we should ask is, who is the author? Without a credible source, there should be immediate skepticism. Students have learned this through school when using outside sources for assignments, and attempt to not rely on Wikipedia or blogs. This is a tool that people, no matter the age, will be able to easily identify.
This article speaks out to future generations as well as young adults who were brought up with the availability of search engines. In a hopeful attempt that parents teach their children of the harmful effects of not filtering information, Rheingold discusses how he taught his daughter evaluative tools. Similarly, he discusses the spam that we have all seen and received. Common hoaxes such as, “Bill Gates will send you $5 for forwarding this email” can turn into public danger of viruses, theft, fraud etc. (Rheingold, 2013). A friend’s grandmother of mine put all of her information including social security and credit card number on a spam alert believing that she was helping a charity. Doing this without realizing how an online source could be harmful led to her information being stolen. This is what Rheingold is trying to prevent, he wants people to know how to use online filters and to be more cautious especially with the advance of social media. While Rheingold did not receive any feedback from viewers on his article, he suggested readers to send him resources to add so other readers could have more information if needed. There are currently nine sources that Rheingold either used, found beneficial to his readers, or that have more information on the topic at hand.
The Internet is an extremely useful source for news, medical advice, financial information, educational resources, research etc. that unless people learn how to weed out the useless and wrong information, the positive influences of the Internet will be overlooked. By investigating a little further before trusting unknown sources, or looking into an author who does not verify factual evidence, the future knowledge of our society will not be in as much harm.