Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Chris weighs in — Part 1

Another former student, Chris Clair, has responded to the "dot" questions. He's written a long response. I'll publish it in parts. Here's part 1:

So first off, anyone else's governor arrested today? No? In Illinois, our last two governors have now faced federal charges; both hailed from the Chicago area. The tradition continues. It took me quite a while longer to put this together today than I expected; I found I couldn't stop reading the Blagojevich indictment. If you haven't I highly recommend visiting the Tribune's web site and perusing it. It definitely sets up a clear distinction between "hubris" and "sociopathic." Anyway, here are some thoughts on the previously listed dots, and some new dots. Then my take on the whole "thinning the herd" discussion.

Building off Rick's and Aaron's emails….

What is the difference between information and knowledge? One thing to consider – knowledge could be the synthesis of information with experience, context and possibly emotion. Further to that, what roles do emotion and experience play in turning "information" into knowledge?

Which vehicles … does the public use to obtain information and/or knowledge? Increasingly the Internet? Newspapers, print or online mostly? Their neighbors? Television? Radio? Video games? Don't forget movies. Also, we have to subdivide "the Internet" and "newspapers." When we speak of the Internet, do we mean blogs? CNN? Matt Drudge? Online newspapers? MoveOn.org? Daily Kos? WSJ's Best of the Web? Conservative sites? Liberal sites? Similarly with newspapers are we talking Chicago Tribune (oops)? NYT? Washington Times? (Note I did not say Post.) Wall Street Journal? Chicago Reader? Willamette Week? SW Connection? Sherwood Gazette?

You see where I'm going here. There's so much fragmentation in the information space it really requires drilling down, getting at the filters through which information is flowing, and how people self-select those filters. Are they doing it consciously? In fact, ARE there "general" news sources any more? CNN? Fox? MSNBC? In addressing "which vehicles," we have to consider partisanship and bias in news.

The late Bob Fulford, my university media professor, used to beat this gong: there is no such thing as unbiased news. To get the full picture on, say, the election, you have to follow CNN, MSNBC and FOX; read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and your local paper; listen to NPR and Rush Limbaugh. The more sources of information, the better "informed" you are. Of course, you'll also have to work harder, but maybe that's the true payoff.

When they obtain information and/or knowledge, do people act? Or just talk? Or forget it? Or ignore it? How do people use information? What information is useful? What constitutes action? How does the method of action depend on where that intersection of knowledge and information is for an individual?

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