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
- When you see something in media (any media), how do you know if it's true or not?
- How do you judge the credibility of a source? What is your thought process?
- Is there such a thing as a fact?
- Have you ever been fooled? Did you initially believe something only to find out later that it wasn't true? How did you react?
- Or, did you ever assume something was false then later find out that it was actually genuine?
Suggested key points to include
- Adopt an “informed skepticism” approach rather than a cynical attitude to online (and other) sources
- Understand how sources are created and maintained (ask who contributes, how selections to post are made, who checks reliability etc.)
- E.g. wikipedia: the strength and weakness of the “encyclopedia” analogy, more usefully seen as a work in progress
- Understand the concept of verifiable truth (as opposed to verified truth) and the use of hyperlinks
- Take the time to understand the crowdsourcing and curatorial practices used by some online sites to create and collect information (refer to definitions and articles included in this document)
- Use a “verifiable truth” approach to develop more critical perspective on other, more traditional sources of information
- Approach sharing responsibly - know what you are sharing, why, and consider what its afterlife might be
- Recognize your ability to express, share, and connect and use it to raise awareness, connect to others and mobilize towards social change
Key term definitions
CurationMedia 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)
CrowdsourcingIn 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)
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.