Jim’s WebLetter for 9/2/17

Hi-ya Friends and Neighbors!

If you have a question you need answering, where do you turn?

Do you ask a friend or colleague? Children might ask a parent. Most times, we search on the internet or pose the question on social media.

Before the internet was opened for public use, we had volumes of encyclopedias and dictionaries we stored on book cases in our homes. To access more references, public libraries were the centralized storage houses. Even today, libraries on college campuses are places for quiet learning and researching for required course exercises.

But in the late 20th century as the Web began to grow and become the place that stored answers, we used search engines to access websites such as the Library of Congress. Then as we moved into the new millennium, search engines like Yahoo and Google began retaining research on their own servers and we began using Web search to learn all sorts of things not necessarily found in the latest Compton’s Encyclopedia.

Today the world is inquisitive to learn answers to many subjects. A recent study showed the most common “how to” search term on Google was “how to tie a tie.” And the most common “how to fix” search is “how to fix a door,” according to Google’s new visual breakdown of the most popular “how to” searches worldwide from 2004 to 2017.

Here’s the overall top-ten list:

How to tie a tie

How to kiss

How to get pregnant

How to lose weight

How to draw

How to make money

How to make pancakes

How to write a cover letter

How to make french toast

How to lose belly fat

What these queries tell us is there are things people want to learn and they recognize that the answers can be found on the Web. Where in the past, children would ask their parents (i.e., my dad taught me how to tie a tie and how to play chess) and this information was passed down through generations, now we have accepted the Web as the place where we can learn and feel we can know that the information provided is true.

This sort of information has been carried over in social media where places like Facebook have become display sources for information we find interesting and care to pass along to others, much as it was done from generation to generation within our families.

But, and as an example with the latest presidential election, a new buzz word has been introduced to describe some of the information passed along in social media. That term is Fake News … News that isn’t totally factual but slanted in some way. All of a sudden all the information we have available to us via the internet may be in jeopardy and in some way be classified as fake if it hasn’t been tested and proven.  

This is what we are grappling with in the Information Age. Is the information real or just some idea that is politically motivated and made to sway someone’s mind into agreeing with the one releasing it.  

Websites like Snopes.com have come under fire for not stating the truth in some of it’s reporting. Likewise, News organizations bend and slant information in an attempt to sway the viewer/reader into believing something that may or may not be the truth. Reporters give their opinion rather than just stating the facts and allowing us to draw our own conclusions.  

The key to providing reliable information is trust. We trust Google or Snopes or the major news organizations to find and provide us with the correct information to our questions, to our need to learn more. We trust our friends to provide real news and factual information when they post on Facebook.  

As we move forward, it is the job of everyone to provide true, factual information so that trust will remain and we all gain from the information we seek.  


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That’s it this week. Have a great weekend and may God bless you and keep you safe.

Jim’s WebLetter

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