Introduction to Unit 3

Today we’re talking about Unit 3, but before we do that, let’s review what’s due on Tuesday. Post your final Truth-o-meter fact-check as a new post on your WordPress site. That is, do not overwrite the DRAFT post or Post #5; instead, create a new post so that I can see the progress. Remember that if you go to the Writing Center, and you email me your client report, you will get 5 bonus points. The client report is an email you’ll receive after your appointment.

Trackers and nefarious hackers: why we need counter-technologies

Based on your reflections, you left Unit 1 with additional questions about post-truth and what it really means for our future and the future of writing. In Unit 2, you’ve had a lot of experience practicing basic web literacies using fact-checking sites like Snopes, Politifact, and Wikipedia; going upstream for original source material, and assessing credibility by reading sources laterally. Although we dabbled in the reasons why we need such literacies in both units, much more can be said of the kinds of technologies that require these literacies in our post-truth moment and we need to progress from a cynical skepticism to a more agentive stance. In other words, we need to ask critical questions that lead to action. That’s what this 3rd unit is all about.

What phenomena or forces can be explored?

To get us to thinking more specifically about the forces that contribute to post-truth, then, let’s begin by extending from the five post-truth lenses we originally studied in Unit 1:

  1. Demagoguery
  2. Clickbait
  3. Conspiracy theories
  4. Confirmation bias
  5. Algorithms

When I assign your group one of terms from above, I want you to brainstorm a list of technologies that have played a role in the development of that phenomenon. Put the list in this Google Doc. By technologies I mean platforms, machines, networks, code, software, digital or online spaces, and tools that contribute to this post-truth moment.

Put another way: we are trying to articulate these concepts by breaking them down or looking at how they happen through tools of mediation. For example, if you’re assigned clickbait, you might list “Facebook economy” as one of these technologies since the Pepples relied on that infrastructure to profit from their fake news on Mad World News. The point is to generate many possible avenues to inquiry. If you’re stuck, you might revisit the daily plan and/or readings from that Unit 1 lesson to develop a bank of additional terms.

Once we share these lists as a large group, you’ll write a brief ¶ about the top 2-3 of these you are interested in and share via this second Google Doc. I’ll do my best to use interests to get you intro groups for Tuesday.

Online discussion

In this unit we move from readers of social media to readers and writers of social media. But which one? I’d like us to discuss which of these you think might work best:

  • Facebook. Private groups that are organized, but require a FB account.
  • Twitter. Public and disorganized, but increasingly used for professional or public discussion
  • Private groups that are organized. Already setup, but not widely used, Plus you already know how to use it, which could be good or bad.

Homework for Tuesday, 4/2

  • Publish final Truth-o-meter post on WordPress
  • Read the entry from Wikipedia on Web Brigades.
  • Read “How Unwitting Americans Encountered Russian Operatives Online
  • Watch this video: