Filter bubbles

Today we are going to review the rubric I created from our class discussions on Tuesday and test it through a peer review exercise. Then we’re going to talk about the importance of reading laterally through an activity on filter bubbles.

Rubric for Fact-checking

On Tuesday both sections worked to create a list of expectations for the fact-check blog posts; I thought we did a nice job and produced a list that overlapped between the 2 sections. Yesterday I organized these lists into a rubric:

Take a look at this rubric and notice how I used the expectations we brainstormed to convert them into an evaluation tool. In order to test the effectiveness of this tool, I want you to evaluate a post by doing the following:

  1. Choose a post that you would like evaluated and quickly re-read it.
  2. Evaluate your blog using the rubric. Is this post mostly ?, ?, or ??
  3. Once you’ve done that, exchange posts with a nearby partner and have them evaluate the same post. Do they see it as mostly?, ?, or ?? The goal here to check your self-evaluation with someone else’s. As an evaluator, please imagine that you are me and really scrutinize the post. In other words, be a tough grader and be ready to justify your selections.
  4. Do the scores match? How can certain aspects be improved? Do you know what you need to do?

Filter Bubbles: Or, the Importance of Reading Laterally

After Trump was elected last November, Saturday Night Live ran this satirical ad of a planned community called “The Bubble”:

The ad poked fun of the privileged position that hipsters, progressives, or white millennials can choose to close themselves off from a version of America that threatens their worldview (they jokingly call it “Brooklyn”). It’s a funny skit because it plays of off some of the fundamental trouble with a networked view of reality.  Hence, the importance of what Caulfield calls “reading laterally.” For your homework today, you read laterally by looking at what others have said about BreitbartOccupy Democrats, or FoxNews. From this you were supposed to answer a few questions:

  • What did you discover from other sources? Did you trust this information you read?
  • What could you find about each of these sources in terms of the site’s process, expertise, and aim?
  • What makes these three sources –BreitbartOccupy Democrats, or FoxNews – a potential threat to democracy?

Activity: Bubble Briefing

Click your group’s link below and use the Google Doc to follow your bubble of sources. Use these sources to compose a briefing on the top stories of the day. Each group should make a list of the Top 3-5 stories (write only a few sentences for that summarize each) and include a link to one representative article.

ConservativeTownhallDrudge Report, The Geller ReportBreitbart, and The Blaze

LiberalThe Raw StoryOccupy DemocratsHuffington Post, The Intercept, and AlterNet 

Mainstream: NY Times, ABC News, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Politico 


Homework for Tuesday, 9/26

  1. Watch this TED Talk by Eli Pariser on filter bubbles.
  2. Read the briefings above and a few of the representative articles each group linked to. As you read, compare them. Create a new (4th) post in WordPress wherein you discuss some or all of the following questions:
  • What headlines and stories cut across the three bubbles? What stories seem unique to those bubbles?
  • Do particular keywords keep coming up across or within each bubble?
  • How do they differ? Do they draw from different sources—interviews, studies, unnamed sources, etc.? How do they link to other sources or stories?
  • Thinking back to how we read laterally, how would you judge these sources on their process, expertise, and aims? What standards of credibility or accuracy seem to exist in each bubble? How do you know?
  • Are there any claims or supposed facts in these stories that are just begging for a more detailed fact-check? Which ones and why? How might you do about it?

Facts & “Post-Truth”

Today you will view our Google Map and introduce yourselves, discuss the readings and your quiz results from last night’s homework, and begin setting up your WordPress site for the semester.

I. Happy places.

  1. Go to our map and find yourself.
  2. Make sure the information here looks good. If you didn’t add a selfie it’s not too late! Send one to me via email today and I’ll add it. This will help us all get to know you better.
  3. Once we are all set, look around the world and read the bios for our section. Be ready to ask follow-up questions. [Tip: one simple way to view names quickly is to pull down the list on the left sidebar.]
  4. Questions for discussion: How might we use this tool in other ways? As teachers? As researchers? As writers? What are some potential complications with this? Are we okay that this is on a public website?

II. What is a fact and why does it matter? Discuss your Factitious quiz and our readings:

  • How did you do on the Factitious quiz? What information did you have to consider as you decided if a news item was true or not? Where did this knowledge come from?  What was limiting about the quiz?
  • Take this 5-minute quiz on “How DigiPo Defines a Fact.
  • Pull up your other reading for today: William Davies’s essay, “The Age of Post-Truth Politics.” According to Davies, there is a “crisis of facts” in Western democracies. What does he mean by this? Point to some moments in the reading.
  • What role has technology played in the shift from a “society of facts to a society of data,” as he puts it? How is it “possible to live in a world of data but no facts”?
  • Davies’s essay was published in the Opinion section of the NYT. Still, are there any facts presented in his essay, as Caulfield defined them? What are they?

III. WordPress.

One of the consistently great resources you will use this semester is Lynda.com, a high-quality, video-based tutorial site that Rowan pays a hefty fee to subscribe to. The fact that you can have a free account to Lynda is a real perk of being a college student here and so we will use it. Although many of your already have experience with WordPress, I’m going to show you a few videos today that help introduce it.

  1. First, make an account at Lynda.com using your Rowan credentials. Once you’re in, you can search for different videos, courses, and other content. I’ll show you this today.
  2. I’ve chosen the “WordPress.com Essential Training” course for us to view today. We want to look at as much as we can with some pausing for questions and processes. Our goal is to simply get your site up.
  3. On Tuesday we will do more with content (i.e. posts and pages).

Homework for Tuesday, 9/12:

  • Finish setting up your WordPress by watching the Lynda video on Creating a WordPress.com account. Then add your URL to this spreadsheet (must be signed in to your Rowan Google Drive). You only need to set up your account — you don’t need to post.
  • Read Caulfield’s Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers: Chapters 1-6
  • Fact-check a claim from your social media feed and write about it in a Google Doc that is saved in your WRT student folder. Title your document “Factcheck 1.”