Facts & “Post-Truth”

I. Attendance on Starfish.

II. What is a fact and why does it matter?

  • 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. Finding facts to check

In some ways, the focus of this entire first unit is knowing when you should double-check the information you encounter on the web. We’ll discuss different contexts for these encounters, looking at moments when claims and facts tend to blur and understanding the ways virality, emotion, and distractions interfere with our ability to assess information clearly and quickly on the web. That said, let’s brainstorm some places where or situations when we should take a closer look at the information we receive. For example, finding hashtags on controversial topics on social media sites like Twitter can lead to a host of so-called facts worth checking. This one might be a good candidate, for example:


IV. WordPress set up, continued

Today we will spend some time in class continuing to set up your WordPress site.

  1. Review our Unit 1 assignment and look at some student sites from last semester: [Actual Facts] [amandaswrt17] [domenicawrt]
  2. Find your URL, and copy and paste it next to your name in this spreadsheet. Note: your URL does not start with wordpress.com; it starts with your blog name (i.e. superstar_sofia.wordpress.com). Adding your URL to the spreadsheet allows me, and others in the class, to find your blog easily.
  3. Choose a theme and begin to play around with customizations and headers. Make a unique header.
  4. Make an About page that tells us a little about yourself. Include a professional-rated image. Let’s also talk about the difference between pages and posts.

Homework for Wednesday, 1/24

  • Read Caulfield’s Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers: Chapters 1-6
  • In a Google Doc that is saved in your WRT student folder, list 4-5 potential facts worth checking. Note the source and provide the link. Remember that DigiPo defines a fact, as “something that is generally not disputed by people in a position to know who can be relied on to accurately tell the truth.” Given this definition, which facts on your list might be easier to check than others? What would you have to know or do in order to go about checking this fact?


Welcome to Sections 3 and 4 of Writing, Research, & Technology (WRT for short)! I’m Jason and I’m looking forward to getting to know you better this semester. Today we are getting to know each other, reviewing the syllabus, and getting acquainted with two of the spaces we will be using this semester (and which some of you are already familiar). As you can see, I use the daily plan blog on this course site to share my lesson plans with you. These also serve as a space for documenting our work and clarifying homework assignments. They are organized by categories and tags and searchable. OK, so here’s the plan for today:

Course plan and trajectory

After briefly introducing myself, I’ll go over some of the course site with you and discuss the first unit.

Take a quiz at Factitious

  • 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 argument does this app make for how you might determine fake news?

Make your own fake headline

Use Breakingnews247 or Breakyourownnews to write a fake news story about yourself to share on social media. Be creative but also try to twist or exaggerate something true about yourself so that people might comment on it on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. Save these images to your desktop. If you’re feeling brave, share it on social media and see what your followers say.

Google Drive set up

We will be using Google Drive to share files and folders throughout this semester. Here’s how to use it.

  1. Go to http://drive.google.com/a/rowan.edu and log in with your usual Rowan credentials.
  2. Go to the “Shared With Me” tab on the left.
  3. Find your WRT student folder. It should include your last name, first name followed by “WRT” (i.e. “Luther, Jason [WRT]”). Click on it. This is the folder you will use to share work with me that is not on a public site; it saves us the trouble of using Blackboard and sending files via email.
  4. Drag your fake news story to this folder.


In the first unit, you will compose several multimedia blog posts in WordPress. Then, in the last unit, you’ll use WordPress to continue building a collaborate website originally started by my Fall 2017 classes, called The Future of Writing (Note: if you took Intro to Writing Arts with me in the fall, this is your chance to improve your skills with a platform that has built more than 20% of all websites.)

In class, I’ll show you how to build your own site. However, one of the consistently great resources you can 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. Here’s how to use it:

  1. First, make an account at Lynda.com using your Rowan credentials.
  2. Once you’re in, you can search for different videos, courses, and other content. I’ll show you this today. If you are new to WordPress, or want a refresher, I suggest using the “WordPress.com Essential Training” course.

Homework for Monday, 1/22