By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics

Conversation Starter Topic: Credibility in the Digital Age

This is the original prompt that the MAPP project shared with Pivot TV and HitRECord in creating the Credibility video:
How do we assess the quality of information we encounter online? What accountability and responsibility should we have over the integrity of the social justice content we decide to circulate? And how prepared should we be to defend the claims we make to support our arguments around political issues? According to a recent survey conducted by the MacArthur Foundation’s Youth and Participatory Politics Network, 85 percent of high school aged youth want more help in learning to discern the credibility of the information they encounter online. For us, this issue is most powerfully raised by our case study of Invisible Children’s Kony2012 campaign, but it is also one which almost every public awareness effort confronts sooner or later.

Questions you can ask to get a conversation about credibility started in your community

Suggested key points to include


Key term definitions



Media literacy, digital culture, and participatory citizenship scholars Paul Mihailidis and James Cohen say: “The word curate derives from the Latin root Curare, or 'to cure.' To curate, historically, has meant to take charge of or organize, to pull together, sift through, select for presentation, to heal and to preserve. Traditionally reserved for those who worked with physical materials in museum or library settings, curation today has evolved to apply to what we are all doing online. The preservation and organization of content online is now largely the responsibility of the individual in highly personalized information spaces. This has created a need to understand how individuals choose to pull together, sift through, organize, and present information within these spaces.” (Mihailidis and Cohen 2013)


In an interview with media scholar Henry Jenkins, Daren Brabham, author of Crowdsourcing, says: “I define crowdsourcing as an online, distributed problem solving and production model that leverages the collective intelligence of online communities to serve an organization’s needs. Importantly, crowdsourcing is a deliberate blend of bottom-up, open, creative process with top-down organizational goals. It is this meeting in the middle of online communities and organizations to create something together that distinguishes crowdsourcing from other phenomena. The locus of control resides between the community and the organization in crowdsourcing.” (Jenkins 2013)


Collective Creativity

Ioana Literat , scholar of participatory collective creativity mediated by digital technology, says: “The value of crowdsourcing lies in the collective intelligence of the contributors”(Ioana Literat 2012). Pierre Levy (1997) describes this concept as “a form of universally distributed intelligence, constantly enhanced, coordinated in real time, and resulting in the effective mobilization of skills” (p. 13). The question of collective intelligence—and its potential efficiency in various practical settings—has received much attention in both academia and journalism. Researchers studying team performance generally agree that, under the right circumstances and with appropriate motivation, large groups of people can work together and harness their collective intelligence to achieve efficient results (Benkler, 2006; Rheingold, 2002; Surowiecki, 2004).  

Take It to the Next Level

If the HitRecord Credibility video and information contained here inspired you to action, you may want reach to the original call for submissions that inspired this video to be made in the first place. While the deadline for submissions has expired, you are always free to create your own responses to it!


Included resources on credibility

Jenkins, Henry. 2007. “Wikipedia Reconsidered.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. 
Jenkins, Henry. 2013. “How Many People Does It Take to Redesign a Light Bulb?: USC’s Daren Brabham on Crowdsourcing (Part One).” Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. 

Literat, Ioana. 2012. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mediated Participation: Crowdsourced Art and Collective Creativity.” In International Journal of Communication 6: 2962–2984.
Mihailidis, Paul and James Cohen. 2013. “Exploring Curation as a Core Competency in Digital and Media Literacy Education” in Journal of Interactive Media in Education 2.

You can download "Conversation Starter Topic: Credibility in the Digital Age" resource packet here.


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