I wonder and I worry about the impact of technology on information….

IMGP0052With that, well it is that. We can via technology solve most of the today’s problems. We can sadly, as we are seeing now, also use technology to push past news and reality, into the new augmented and changed the reality of what is “is” and frankly is …

Distortion and alternative facts appear now as if they should exist. When did social media become the source for news? When did we stop using verified information sources and suddenly began relying on what the friend, of a friend of a friends cousins uncles brothers son, said as fact? What changed that we suddenly no long have valid news sources.

Perhaps no longer having Walter Cronkite changed things. I remember him from my childhood, you knew what he said was a fact. What he said was the truth. It was nuanced or modified to fit a different agenda it was fact. Did we lose our way?

I keep coming back to these questions, I know as a technologist there is blame here. I know as someone that blogs every day I am part of the problem. I work very hard on my blog to keep the rules that I have set. I don’t mention people’s names often. I only mention company names that offer exceptionally good or exceptionally bad customer service by name. Otherwise, I try not to mention the names of companies.

There is a line from a TV show “Just the facts ma’am.” That is relevant but isn’t relevant. It isn’t relevant until the writers and producers of the show Dragnet get credit for the line. Then it becomes more relevant but now we look at the facts we have and suddenly spin doctors do more with less. I don’t need facts. I need the alternative facts. What after all is the difference between being off 1 foot, and being off by 223 feet? Or knowing that the wind is blowing from the North and is between 0 and 200 mph. The actual speed, the actual fact isn’t relevant, is it?

IMGP0053Over the course of the 10 years, I have blogged I haven’t logged too many political posts. This one isn’t political although I am poking fun of the current spokesperson for the White House with the alternative facts. I think she meant to say the alternative view of the facts. A secondary look, another angle, another thing that could be considered. A lens if you will. But Alternative facts came out. That one is bad. So sadly are all the different things throw about by the other side as well.

It is time for a fact.

Not nuanced, or alternative fact. It is time to return to facts. Look sometimes facts are horrible. It is fact that our climate is changing. It is fact that it is changing because of human activity. It is a fact that less than 100% of the people that could vote did vote in this last election.

Facts are verified. There are two distinct forms of verification to consider. The first is the publication of facts by news organizations either in print or broadcast (Radio/TV/Internet). If CNN or NBC, CBS, ABC Fox news or some other organization spews something that isn’t true they can be sued. Winning might hard but you can. Facts are nuanced by news organizations, however. Not with intent or malice rather it is the reality of the human perception. John Boyd’s OODA Loops show us where the nuance occurs, between the observation and the orientation. The second form of verification is someone you trust telling you that. Sharing something they found or discovered.

It used to be that the first mode of news was sacrosanct. It would not portray false information. The second, registered of the status of your friend, was always suspect. Now, if your friend was directly involved din the event, then that increased the likelihood of truth. But for the most part, the news presented information fairly and reasonably. That changed with the split between various news organizations who began presenting political rhetoric as fact, on both the liberal and conservative front. That coupled with the technology enablement that is social media, allowed for the new creation of news. The friend of a friend’s uncles, brothers, sons, pet monkey saw this happen live. So it is a fact. It gets the same value as we used to give the great Walter Cronkite.

IMGP0056I listen to people leap to conclusions and using facts and alternative facts, throw opinions around like they are facts. I worry that we rush to judgment based on things that are not real. But once in action, we cannot stop.

I worry that as a technologist, as someone that has built and shared information for years, that I am responsible for this now. I worry that I am the author of the very thing I don’t like.

Images today from the digital collection of Dr. Hans O Andersen.


Sad technologist.