Tag Archives: Election 2016

Die, 2016, Die. In memes.

When the year was ending last year, it seemed like there was one prevailing opinion about how to explain 2015.

One of many memes out there commemorating this zeitgeist.

One of many memes out there commemorating this zeitgeist.

2015, the year everyone was offended by everything. Certainly in America. However, there weren’t a lot of things to point to and say they were really all that bad, and the general thought was that clearly things had just gotten out of hand and we all needed to calm down, have a more open mind, be less offended, and everything was going to be fine.

The original full comic is here: http://gunshowcomic.com/648

The original full comic is here: http://gunshowcomic.com/648

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A Word from a Librarian Regarding: Fake News

The stories have been flying: 2016 has been dominated by fake news stories. Well, fake, misleading, sarcastic, overly biased, click-baity, etc. news stories. Indeed, the biggest story has been the list of news sites that fit criteria for being less than fully trustworthy. Sadly, that list is currently being rebuilt in a more permanent form – so I can share the site that once was the list, and will one day point to the list.

That site does still have a good list of criteria to use when evaluating a website. However, with the stories about fake news flying around, there was a librarian tool that came to mind. That I’ve seen other librarians sharing lately as well.

The C.R.A.A.P. Test.

Memorable, right? Here, let me go through the acronym in relation to fake news:

Currency

While there’s a thought that news online only has a really short life span before we’re on to the next story, there’s also the thought that nothing on the Internet really goes away. There were definitely some stories flying about the election where, reading into them, the evidence being referenced was from a while back. Early days of the campaign, years ago, whatever. And sometimes, these older things were being presented as current news.

You also see this a lot with new names being dropped (like the Cabinet appointees): some element about them is found and brought forward, and these points tend to come from anytime during their careers. It’s worth evaluating how relevant older points are – or whether the individuals have shown repeated evidence to back it up.

Relevance

I mean okay, sometimes the evidence and point of a click-bait sort of story don’t match, so you can ask about relevance. In many ways, this is a point more geared towards a research project. However, there’s an element to relevance that I think is absolutely part of the share-worthy news of today: does the story feel like it aligns too closely with your opinions? Does it feel, in other words, like it was geared towards you as an audience? Is it too relevant? If so, it’s one to verify by a few sources instead of accepting from the one.

Authority

The word to consider here is “author.” However, in these days of Internet news, with so many people putting out, sharing, remixing the news and stories, it’s harder to know the authors. Which means, the site posting the story has to be considered. I’ve seen some with “conservative” or “liberal” in the title of the website. Ummm… I think biased. I mean, I guess it’s better to wear your bias on your sleeve than to have one and hide it, but still, not something I would trust. Even more, I see stories from sites I’ve just plain never heard of – start from there when it comes to questioning a source.

Accuracy

One of the best pieces for accuracy, in the world of online news, might just have to do with linking out to evidence and sources of information. However, it’s easy to do that – I do it all the time, after all, and I’m usually linking to myself (or another author here on the site). For linking out to evidence to matter, you need to click through and check things out. Holly’s been doing a lot of that lately – and has been tearing stories apart when she does. At the very least, I recommend hovering your mouse over the article to see where the link goes…

Purpose

Ah, and this one’s the rub. This one is the why on why are we seeing so much fake news, so much click bait. The problem is, the number one goal for most of these is quite simply to be clicked into, to be seen. They do this first with the headline, something catchy and attention-grabbing. Evoking an emotion response a lot of the time. Then, with their bias or contents, they hope that you will share the story – raging against it, or agreeing whole-heartedly with it. Then your friends, with the added weight of your endorsement, click into the story as well.

It’s business. They get ad revenue from you clicking, from you viewing. The more the better.

Traditional news, when it comes to the business side, is still trying to figure out what their business model looks like in the Internet age. That means a lot of legitimate news sources are tied up behind pay-walls or have limited views per month for free. They want you to subscribe, but that also makes it hard to share them with people who aren’t subscribed. So of all the news sources out there, of course it’s the ones freely available that have gone flying across the Internet.

They have a different purpose. Think about this when you click, think about this when you share.

Checking in with Alternate Davids

freedom-intensifiesHi all, today ought to be a post for the Astral Chronicles, but I wasn’t far enough ahead, and the Election still looms large.

Here at Comparative Geeks, we often talk about the present and the world in geeky terms, so I figured this should be no different. So let’s take a break from present-day David, from me (and my webcomicing ways), and let’s check in with some possible alternate Davids. The mes I could have been.


The most obvious alternate me is the starving artist me, the one who out of college tried to start a writing career – the one I suppose in some ways I am still trying to be, just the long way around. You know, without the starving.

This me was likely an ex-pat for a while (I was basically adopted by my friends while in England), but that didn’t work out long term. That me is thoroughly troubled by the Brexit vote, and probably gets most of his news from the BBC.

This David was probably a Bernie supporter (at least, based on who this David’s best friend is). Meaning this David has been upset for a while, so maybe he would be pretty even keel right now.

I also hope that this David would approve of the webcomic, not gonna lie… I’m not sure this David would have gotten back into comics, though he would have kept reading webcomics. But I’m not sure he would be creating one – he would be working on novels.

Oh, and he would be totally cool with the idea of alternate reality mes… probably would have tried writing about alternate realities.


Then there’s the alternate reality David that kept studying history. If one of my peers in that is any measure, I would only just have started as a professor this fall. That feels like a really tenuous position, and one in which I would not feel like going out on a limb politically… But it’s also a David who would be all over the historical parallels playing out in the nation right now.

It also probably means I wouldn’t have started much writing yet, nor potentially a family (or at least kids). This David would probably be really annoyed that now – when the rest of his life was supposed to get started – there was so much uncertainty about the future.


There’s even the alternate reality David that had considered being a pastor. When that David told his pastor and associate pastor, they laughed in his face, so it was a short-lived possible future… still, it’s one I’ve thought of.

I wonder, as a pastor, how this David would be reacting to what’s going on. To the anger and fear and hate. To the parishioners whose candidate won; to the parishioners whose candidates lost. Maybe I’ve been wondering this because I kind of want to go talk to my pastor and see what he would say (especially since he’s also a history teacher).

This David would have led the most different life from what I’ve lived now, and that makes it the hardest to guess about this David. Potentially just apolitical. Either way, there would be a lot of emotions that would be riding high that would need some pastoral help!


And finally, back to me again. It’s probably easy to say that the defining attribute in my life, in me turning out this way, and decisions made, is meeting and forming a relationship (and a life) with Holly. It’s a good life. I’m writing and storytelling (though again, not today, sorry). We have a wonderful little Geek Baby Toddler. Might even find myself in a tenure faculty position soon.

As to a reaction to the election, I think it would fit with this post to say I’m feeling a bit fractured. To help explain, though, allow me to perhaps share this that I’ve seen floating around the Internet:

millenials-electoral-college-map

This is the supposed “if only Millennials voted” Electoral College map. Which in a lot of ways, helps me understand something about the echo chamber I’ve been agonizing about, and feeling like maybe I’m sheltering myself, or experiencing confirmation bias, or something. And on a macro level, yeah, maybe I am experiencing all of that. Because my whole generation seems to be of a like mind to some extent. Certainly in their shock and reaction after the election.

And I’m flickering between all these other possible mes, the outsider, the alarmist, the reconciler… and I’m here, somewhere between all those states. Maybe you are too. There’s a lot of ways our lives can go, but for the here and now, this is the world we have.

Audio

Comparative Opinions: End of the World Stories – Episode 19

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! It’s the end of the world as we know it, or at least, it might be with the election this week! In honor of that, hosts David and Holly – along with submissions from fans – lay out examples of End of the World stories, including some of our favorites. Spoilers abound for various apocalypses and post-apocalypses (and especially for the Final Fantasy XIII series)! Hopefully, we’ll all still be here to have an episode next week…

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros