Howard Rheinghold composes a chapter titled “Crap Detection 101” in his book Net Smart – How to Thrive Online, as he discusses the importance of valid sources. In this text, Rheinghold goes in depth about the various ways to go about determining if the information you find online is true. After reading this text, I am now more knowledgeable on the simple ways one can determine whether or not a source is reliable, without having to go back and forth through revisions. I decided to use this text as critical lens through which I read the article, written by J.M. Berger titled “How terrorists recruit online (and how to stop it).” In analyzing this article, I was able to apply the methods of ‘crap detection’ noted in Howard Rheinghold’s text.
Simply put, crap detection is the ability to determine what is truthful on the internet versus what is not. Rheinghold explains this process as he helps his daughter with research for a school assignment.
The article, “How terrorists recruit online (and how to stop it)” is about the terrorist group ISIS and how they recruited members online and through social media. Berger begins by breaking down the manner that ISIS seeks recruiters, which includes judging their disposition, creating a form of isolation, and then going on to use coded – encrypted messages for communication. He also mentions that the media must tread lightly when discussing the group, because they can unintentionally amplify ISIS’s message. “While it’s well worth fighting this battle, there are practical and ethical limits to how much we can interdict discovery.” (Berger) The author does not fail to acknowledge that we have to limit prying as it can violate ethical and moral values. This stood out to me because it is very important to also acknowledge limits when dealing with these problems. In reading this article, however, I came across multiple aspects in which to implement Rheingholds methods of crap detection.
In the beginning of the text, as Rheinghold is working with his daughter, he introduces how to find the registered owner of the site (source) that is being used. This website, Whois.net , allows one to enter the domain address of a particular website, and it produces the registrars name as well as the IP address of device from which the source was posted.
So, upon conducting my crap detection, I put the articles website into the Whois engine, and it provided me with a registrars name. The website was registered under the name ‘Educase’ which is fairly popular nonprofit research entity. Educase aims to “advance higher education though the use of technology” and ensures that the information they put out is legit. After reading this, my skepticism was put at ease. With this simple search I found that this particular registrar has a history of credible information – which made things better.
The website of this particular article was published under an ‘edu’ domain. This is important because it is somewhat harder for un-cited information to be published upon an ‘edu’ domain. With this, the average person cannot easily obtain an ‘edu’ – which makes my seek of crap detection a success. Although, the information can indeed be falsified, the article included links and further means of citation for the information to be placed back to.
Though my crap detection was a success, the Rheinghold text points out that it is also important to pay attention to website layout. Many aesthetically appealing websites hold information that is incorrect and/or not cited. As the saying goes “everything that glitters isn’t gold”. However it is important to take into account all aspects of potential sites (sources).
Rheinghold, Howard. Net Smart – How to Thrive Online . The MIT Press, 2012.
Berger, J.M. “How Terrorists Recruit Online (and How to Stop It).” Brookings, The Brookings Institution, 9 Nov. 2015, www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2015/11/09/how-terrorists-recruit-online-and-how-to-stop-it/.
#Unit 2, #SimonetteN, #Rheinghold, #Berger