So I was working away yesterday afternoon, listening to CBC’s show on technology, Spark and Howard Rheingold came on about how to be a better digital citizen. This week his topic was Crap detection 101.
He talked about thinking like a detective when you come upon a source and then triangulating that information with at least two other sources, the way journalists (the good kind do). He talked about making sure the site with the info has an author, and if so, then it is a good idea to research that author.
As a librarian, these things are not new to me. In fact, I do it without even thinking about it. But he did mention a tool I had never heard of, one that helps to get to the bottom of the sites that are particularly good at hiding their agenda.
It is called whois.net. Whois allows you to paste in the URL and check who owns the ip address. Rheingold gave an example of a Martin Luther King site so I thought I would try it:
Here is the site: Martin Luther King Jr. A true HIstorical Examination.
The URL looks like this: http://www.martinlutherking.org/
Okay- it is a .org. It is about Martin Luther King. So far so good.
Here is how the front page looks like:
Okay- just with the DYI interface I would already be a little suspicious, as well as the link to why the King Holiday Should be repealed, but I might have gotten suckered in by the table of contents with such nice, reliable titles like Historical Writings.
So I tapped in the whois.net and found out that it is owned by Stormfront. Who is Stormfront? Well then a quick copy and paste and voilà! It is a white pride nationalist group.
Of course, as I re-enact this process for this blog, I realise I could have just scrolled down to the bottom of the page and seen that it is hosted by Stormfront and simply clicked on the handy link they provided…
Still. Whois.net can be a useful tool.
Do you have any crap detection tips and tricks?