Tuesday, November 29, 2016

the end of secrecy and certainty

In the fall of 1992 I observed my first demonstration of a computer search, before the invention of early search engines like Mosaic and AltaVista, when a geeky Air Force general showed us how to find weather sites and foreign library catalogs. I remarked to a colleague, "This is the end of secrecy and certainty."  I meant that protecting secrets would be next to impossible and that verification of information time-consuming and difficult. I think the subsequent history of the Internet and World Wide Web has proven me right.

The recent tsunami of "fake news" and commentary about it brought back my memory of 1992. I used to think that fake news was satirical, like Onion headlines. Now I see that it is often deliberate misinformation. I've missed out on a  lot of it because I get most of my news from print publications, which still have professional standards and value accuracy. What I'm missing, however, is what millions and millions see and believe.

I have no solutions to offer beyond reader skepticism and demands for proof.

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