Filter bubbles

Today we are going to review the rubric I created after our class discussions on Wednesday. Then we’re going to talk about the importance of reading laterally through an activity on filter bubbles.

Rubric for Fact-checking

Last week 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 two sections. Yesterday I organized these lists into a rubric:

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 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 DemocratsFoxNews, and others. 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 consuming info from these sources a potential problem for democracy?

Activity: Bubble Briefing

  1. Click your assigned group’s link below. This will take you to a Google Doc.
  2. Once on the document, follow the links at the top for the sources listed.
  3. Read all of the sources and make a list of 3-5 common themes, stories, subjects, topics to all of the sites. These can be loose or specific. It is up to each group to decide how to find these commonalities.
  4. Then use the Google Doc to compose a summary of for each common theme or topic or story.
  5. Also for each, include a link to one representative article.
  6. Here’s an example from last semester’s conservative bubble: Muslims and immigrants are ruining everything: There are a host of stories claiming that muslims or immigrants are the source of different crimes and disasters around the world. In general casts muslims in a bad light. This one from, for example, claims that certain interpretations of Quran promote violence and sexual assault.

Conservative: Townhall, Drudge Report, The Geller Report, Breitbart, and The Blaze

LiberalThe Raw Story, Occupy Democrats, Huffington Post, The Intercept, and AlterNet 

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

On Wednesday we’ll talk more about what you found.

Homework for Wednesday, 2/7

Read Caulfield’s chapters on using scholarly sources to read laterally, Chapters 20-25 (“Stupid journal tricks,” “Finding a Journal’s Impact Factor,” “Using Google Scholar…,” “How to Think About Research,” “Finding High Quality Secondary Sources,” and “Choosing Your Experts First“).

Use WP post #4 to go upstream on a news report that cites a recent study. (For some of you who have already blogged about a recent study, feel free to pick up where you left off.) If you’re stuck, type “recent study” into Google and click the “News” tab at the top. Like so:

Once you find a news story that cites a study or piece of scholarship, go upstream to find that original study. [Note: You may have to log in to Rowan’s library to access some of these.]

Even if you cannot find the actual study, use the strategies from the chapters above to check the credibility of the journal and the expertise of the author(s). If you get stuck on one strategy, discuss it in your post, but move to another. Not all journals will have an impact factor and not all authors can be easily found in Google Scholar, but you should seek both. Ultimately your goal is to use these search strategies to “accurately summarize the state of research and the consensus of experts in a given area, taking into account majority and significant minority views.”

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; it starts with your blog name (i.e. 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?