A lesson about how digital technology has stirred our imagination and enabled us to create new realities. At the same time we need to be sceptical about the merits of an all-encompassing digital lifestyle.
This lesson is inspired by the concept of transformation. It deals with how technology has changed the way we communicate and transfer knowledge and how the ‘digital’ has created new encounters that seem real, but sometimes are able to deceive and seduce our senses.
A short animation presents how digital technology facilitates the processes of transformation. The idea that a person, animal, or object can change its appearance has inspired artists, scholars, and inventors for centuries. With the advent of digital technology the ease with which one can create, manipulate, and share content online has ‘democratized’ the ability to transform reality. The plethora of web applications that are at our disposal allows us to ‘transform’ or ‘enhance’ reality into a virtual experience in a split second. At the same time, this freedom on the web and accessibility of tools can have detrimental effects on the credibility of information, creating the risk of manipulating audiences by the spread of ‘fake news’. The following assignments deal with the advantages and disadvantages of digital cultures and highlight the timeless idea of transformation, from Greek mythology to computer algorithms.
All of the images from the clip ‘Transformation’ that you just saw originated somewhere else. They have been copied and pasted in a new context thanks to technologies that allow you to ‘transform’ and retrieve images. This assignment revolves around Image Recognition Software, also known as Computer Vision. You will first learn how to create a screenshot of an image and inspect its corresponding metadata. Then, you will learn how to use software to find where an image on the web originally comes from. Finally, you will analyse the image using digital source criticism tools. This will allow you to trace the origin of the image to its publication in a digital representation in an online environment, documenting the transformations it has undergone in order to reach its most recent stage.
A screenshot (sometimes referred to as a screencap, screengrab, or in the earlier days of the internet, as a print screen), can be seen as revolutionary. The ease with which you can copy and paste an image, use it in another context, and share it with others, encourages the use and spread of images on the web. This is especially the case when the images are copyright free. The first step in exploring image recognition is using your laptop to create two screenshots of images of your choice that have been used for the animation ‘Transformation.’
For Mac users, the screenshots will automatically appear on your desktop. For Windows users, the screenshots will appear in a folder called “Screenshots” in your “Pictures” folder. Copy those screenshots in the two fields of your answerform (this will be added to this lesson to download asap).
Taking the screenshots automatically generates information about them that we call metadata. Metadata, which literally means “data about data”, is information about the object in question. It is a concept that is key for the management of digital content (including photos, texts, audio or video-files, tweets, or 3d objects). In the case of digitally produced images, this type of metadata is called Exif data, which stands for:
This file contains information about the image such as the amount of pixels, the number of bytes, the colour scheme, the date of creation, and the format of the image.
You are now going to inspect the metadata of the first of the two screenshots that you created.
|Mac OS metadata||Finding|
|Name and extension|
|Preview (smaller version of screenshot)|
|Type of file|
|Size on disk|
The purpose of Image Recognition software is to teach systems to recognize patterns in images in the same way humans do. The software is trained with data that enables it to create a kind of prediction model. This model defines a set of conditions that have to be met and translates those into pixel values, which allows the software to recognize different images by looking for the closest possible resemblances to what it has learned and stored. We are now going to explore two online image recognition services: a well known one, Google Search by Image, and a less-known service, Tineye.
For this assignment, you will choose the second of the two screenshots you took in Assignment 1a (that is, not the one that you analyzed the metadata of) to search for its origin via two image recognition services, Google Search by Image, and Tineye.
Describe the first two search results, first the result of the search and then what you find when you open the link, assess the quality of the image recognition in both services.
Source criticism is the practice of critically engaging with a source. Historians, for example, have always questioned the origin, meaning, and credibility of the historical sources that they use. However, when a source is digitised, published online, and reproduced by many people, it can become more difficult to trace the origin of the source. In this assignment, you are going to document the characteristics of the image from its original creation to its digital representation online, tracking the changes that happen each time the image is transformed into something else. It is important to remember that while the transformed image communicates the same message as the original in most instances, its artifactual value has profoundly changed.
The goal here is to understand the difference between ‘the’ image and ‘an’ image. ‘The’ image is the original, that is, the very first of its kind that was ever made. ‘An’ image is a reproduction of the original image. Sometimes the reproduction is in the same format as the original and sometimes it is in a completely different format. Here, you will be tracing that process of transformation from the original image (context of creation) to its digital reproduction (context of digitisation).
NOTE: You may need to do some additional web research to answer all the questions. Some good resources include Encyclopedia Britannica, Google Scholar, and Khan Academy. Keep in mind that some websites do not share the information about the digitization process, so it is OK if you are not able to find all the necessary information.
To give you an idea of how to respond to the questions, an example is given below.
|1. Context of creation||example answer|
|What is its name and who created it?||Portrait de Dora Maar. It was created by the painter Pablo Picasso.|
|When and where was it created?||1937 and potentially in Paris.|
|For which purpose?||to create a work of art|
|What is portrayed in the image?||Dora Maar, a pseudonym for the french photographer, painter and poet Henriette Theodora Markovitch, Picasso’s muse|
|With which technology/craft/medium?||Oil on linen|
|2. Context of preservation||example answer|
|Where is the original?||At the Musée Picasso in Paris|
|What does this say about the value of the source?||It is valued as an important work of art|
|Is it accessible to an audience?||It is not clear whether it is in the museum’s archive or currently being exhibited to the public|
|Has its value/ appearance//identity changed in this different context?||Yes, it has become part of shared cultural heritage as it is in a publicly funded museum.|
|3. Context of digitisation and online publishing||example answer|
|On which website did you find it?||I found it both on commercial images selling companies websites like Alamy, and in websites of collections, like wikiart. An interesting thing to note is that you can end up on a website where you have to pay to receive a copy, whereas the image is licensed under ‘fair use’ and can be downloaded without costs, in a lower resolution|
|Who published it online, when and where?||This is not possible to find out online and would require an investigation based on contact with the owner of the painting, that is, the museum|
|Why and how was it digitised||Same as above|
|Was information lost or added?||Yes, its materiality was lost, the colors are different, the dimensions are different, and it has changed into digits and automatically created metadata when being photographed, being converted to a lower resolution to make it suitable for upload. When uploaded, the structure of the bits changed again, and new metadata was added.|
|Who is the owner of the digital copy?||Probably the Picasso Museum, but it is being shared under the principle of ‘fair use’ and for educational and research purposes a lower resolution is freely available.|
Learn how digital technology is applied to copy images and how this automatically generates metadata (information about the copy that has been created)
Learn the basic principles of image recognition and how this contributes to a move from textual to multimodal forms of communication.
Learn how to apply source criticism to a digital representation of an object that has been published online.
Copying and re-using images and texts is easier than ever before since the advent of digital technology. However, during the same period the risk of infringement of the rights of an author or artist has also increased, as it becomes more difficult to control the way in which his or her work is used or to prevent other people from financially exploiting it. To diminish this risk, specific arrangements have been made to regulate the use of images on the web. This assignment focuses on these arrangements and how they can differ, sometimes greatly, from country to country.
There has always been a connection between technological progress and the need to introduce new laws to protect the ideas and efforts of authors, inventors, and artists. The first copyright law was enacted in Great Britain in 1710 to protect the rights of authors from the unauthorized reproduction of their works. A similar need evolved with the advent of digital technology and the web, which facilitated copying and spreading original works. Digitisation has made the concept of ownership and copyright difficult to deal with. This assignment is about arrangements that have been made to regulate the use of images on the web.
The ease with which one can make a copy of an image on the web encourages the re-use and re-mix of digital content, as Ferguson explains in his video series. But just because an image exists on the web and you can easily download it does not mean that you are dealing with copyright-free material. The conditions for using the image should be checked first.
Here are a number of ways to check whether or not you can use an image found on the web:
If none of the suggestions yield results, contact the copyright owner through the owner of the website (also known as the webmaster).
If you unintendedly have infringed copyright law, this website offers guidelines on how to handle the problem: https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/website-permissions/websites/
|screenshot 1||screenshot 2|
|Where did you find the image? (choose the web resource with the most valuable information about the origin of the image)|
|Under what law has this arrangement been made?|
|Where did you find this type of information?|
The information in the assignment above may give you the impression that copyright rules apply to all the countries in the world that are connected to the web via the internet. This is certainly not the case. In fact, copyright laws can be very different depending on the country of origin in which the material was produced or in which the creator lives. In this assignment, we will briefly discuss some of the differences in various countries.
To get an idea of the diversity read pages 197-204 of the article The Tangled Web: Cross-Border Conflicts of Copyright Law in the Age of Internet Sharing by Elisabeth Fiordalisi from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law about the differences between countries in copyright and then respond to the questions below.
What are the essential differences in copyright law between Europe and the US according to Fiordalisi? (see page 204)
What is a ‘netizen’ and when was the term introduced? (Conduct additional web research)
If you would use an image that is licensed without permission on a website that you created in the country you live in, but that is accessible throughout the world, what would be the consequences?
Copyright has been introduced to protect somebody’s unique creation. When considering the variety of technologies, scripts, designs, sounds, and images that are used in an animation, one could say that it is the result of many kinds of creativities. In this assignment, you are challenged to discover which creative input was needed to put the ‘Transformation’ clip together and how we managed to keep the costs of purchasing images low.
Watch part of the ‘Transformation’ clip again, keeping in mind the following questions:
What different kinds of expertise are needed to create such a clip? To help you out, you can have a look at the credits at the end of the clip.
What kind of content has been used to create the clip? (sound, text, image) To help you out, check out one of the first versions of the storyboard that was created for the Transformation clip.
Have the creators of the Transformation clip taken risks with regard to the use of images? For some inspiration, take a look at columns I and J of the storyboard document above.
More information about the first modern copyright law: Doteasy. “THE STATUTE OF ANNE – 1710.” History of Copywrite. 2005. Website
Learn about the origin of copyright and what arrangements have been made on the web to both protect the rights of authors while at the same time ensuring that content that can be shared freely.
In the ‘Transformation’ clip, the claim is made that digital technology enhances the processes of transformation, which is why the term is so often used in combination with that of ‘digital’. In this assignment, you are going to explore the meaning of the term ‘transformation’ as well as the related term ‘metamorphosis’. You will also trace back the changes in the meaning of both terms by using the Google Ngram Viewer tool.
The terms ‘metamorphosis’ and ‘transformation’ are related but are not synonymous. ‘Metamorphosis’ is associated with animals that are able to transform from one shape into another (even though this was not its original meaning) while ‘transformation’ is a more generic reference to ‘change’, and is commonly used in combination with ‘digital’. To trace the original meaning or the origin of any word (also called a word’s etymology), before the advent of the internet, you had to use a printed dictionary, of which the credibility and authority would be secured by the status of an organisation or person (normally either the publishing house or the editors). Digital technology can help us retrieve various interpretations of their original meanings instantaneously. It can also help with tracing back how these meanings changed over time. Yet, the importance of applying the same source criticism you would use with printed materials applies equally to information resources that one can find on the web.
In this assignment, you are going to look up the etymology (origin) of the words ‘metamorphosis’ and ‘transformation’ in the Online Etymology Dictionary
To check whether you can trust the information on any website, one strategy is to read and apply the criteria for ‘detecting CRAP’ as outlined in this page from Canvas Network’s massive open online course (or MOOC) ‘Understanding Media: Facts, Authority, and What We Believe.’ Read over this page.
Now, look up the etymology of the terms ’metamorphosis’ and ‘transformation’ in the Online Etymology Dictionary and write down the origins of the two terms in your own words in the boxes below. Pay attention to the different parts of the terms, such as any prefixes, verbs, nouns, or suffixes.
To evaluate the quality of this resource, use the CRAP strategy from above and answer the questions that each letter represents in the box below. Note: You may not be able to find all the information requested - that is OK.
The contexts in which particular terms are used is affected by technological, cultural, and economic changes in society. How the use of terms changes over time can be traced with the help of a tool called the Google Books Ngram Viewer. This is a search engine created by Google that charts the frequencies of a term in 18 million books available in the public domain in the English language that were printed between 1500 and 2008. This is done via statistical analysis of yearly counts of words. Although it is not fully representative, it can give a good impression of how the meaning of a term can change over time.
Here is the link to the Google Books Ngram Viewer. You enter terms in the Ngram into the search bar at the top and separate them with a comma. After pressing ‘Search lots of books,’ the Ngram viewer will then show a graph of each term you entered. Have a look at the example below with the terms ‘Albert Einstein,’ ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ and ‘Frankenstein.’ Below the graph, you can also see a set of time periods, arranged chronologically. These are links to a list of books that have been published in this period and are part of the corpus of 18 million books.
To get a quick overview of how Google Books Ngram Viewer works, read this article from Lifewire
Now enter the term ‘metamorphosis’ in the Ngram, select the first time period where the term appears below, and glance over the books that appear in that time period.
What are the topics of the books with ‘metamorphosis’ in the title? In what kind of section of the library would you find them? How would they be tagged to be traced online?
Now go to the last time period, open the link and skim the titles that appear. Is there a change in the kind of context in which the term is used? Is its meaning the same as in the first period?
Now open up some links to other time periods. Can you find a title of a book in which the term is used in a different way?
Now put a comma after ‘metamorphosis’ and add the term ‘transformation’ to your search.
What strikes you when you compare the two graphs?
Compare the book titles from the first time period to the time period with a peak. Is there a difference in the topics of the books with ‘transformation’ in their title that were published in the early period and with those that were published at the peak of the graph? Identify and list the topics for the early period and for the peak.
Now delete the terms ‘metamorphosis’ and ‘transformation’ and instead search for the term ‘digital transformation’
How would you characterize the topics of the books in the first time period that contain this term in the title?
Do you see a difference with the books listed in the last time period?
Conduct a search on Google with the term ‘digital transformation’. What strikes you with regard to the contexts in which the term is most present?
While the Good Books Ngram viewer is a useful tool, it is important to note that it also has its drawbacks. Read this article in the American magazine Wired about the pitfalls of using the Google Book Ngram for research.
Metamorphosis (also known as shapeshifting) has been used as a recurrent theme in mythology, folklore, and speculative fiction since the dawn of time. One of the most influential works inspired by Greek mythology which deals with this topic is Ovid’s epic poem the Metamorphoses. Ovid (known in Latin as Ovidius) was a Roman poet who lived from 43 BC to 17/18 AD and became fairly famous during his lifetime and even more so after his death. His epic poem Metamorphoses consists of over 250 myths centered around the idea of ‘forms that change,’ and recounts the ‘history’ of the world from its creation until the time of Caesar. Metamorphoses has had a significant impact on Western culture ever since its creation including providing inspiration for several of William Shakespeare’s plays. In this assignment, we will explore some of the main themes found in the poem.
Listen to the first 10 minutes of this BBC podcast as presenter Melvyn Bragg, author A.S. Byatt, and literary critic A. Catherine Bates discuss the appeal and several themes of Ovid’s poem Metamorphoses and then answer the questions that follow.
What is Byatt’s explanation for the appeal of Ovid’s poetry from ancient times to the present? (1:34 - 3:58)
During the exchange of opinions on Ovid, in the first eight minutes the experts refer to six mythological forms of transformation, mentioning the names of the deities that are involved. Try to identify them by making use of the hints and the indicated time-stamps in the table.
|Hint||Who is involved and what is at stake?|
|A human being is turned into an animal (2.45)|
|A deity is turned into a bush (4.48)|
|A woman is turned into a fisherman (5.09)|
|From girl to man (6.00)|
|Women turn into trees (6.30)|
|Women turn into a stone (7.11)|
This is a link to a translated version of Ovid’s work by Anthony. S. Kline, published online in open access by the University of Virginia and made searchable. In the index you can look up the names of the mythological protagonists in Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Use the resource to trace the stories in the poem that are connected to the names you have identified in the podcast. Put the link in the field with a short description of what the context is. (75 words max.)
It was the Roman poet Ovid’s fascination for the world being in a constant state of flux that led to the creation of his epic poem Metamorphosis. The fact that this fascination is everlasting is illustrated by the massive impact of his poem, especially on Western culture. Renaissance and Baroque artists frequently depicted mythological scenes and characters from his poem while famous authors such as Shakespeare and Chaucer drew on his work. Ovid would probably have been thrilled to learn that nowadays the structure of his work can be analyzed with the help of digital tools. The recurrent use of the term ‘transformation’ when referring to the impact of digital technology on today’s society echoes Ovid’s enchantment with change. In this assignment, you will identify themes from the Metamorphoses that are depicted in paintings which, thanks to digital technology, we now have instantaneous access to.
As mentioned, Ovid’s Metamorphoses has had a significant impact on Western culture, especially within the art world. While themes and scenes from the Metamorphoses can be found in literally hundreds of paintings all over the globe, here we will examine several which are the most well-known.
Contextualise two of the paintings in the table below by researching the title of the work, the painter, and the year(s) it was painted in and put the information (as well as a link to the image) in the second column. You can use a reverse image search service such as Google Search by Image or Tineye, or you can try to describe the image using the usual keyword search on a search engine of your choice. To use reverse image search, make a screenshot of the images you have chosen, and upload them in the search box.
Next, describe in your own words the myth being depicted in the painting. Then, find the corresponding passage about the mythological figures that is depicted in the painting in this online version of the Metamorphoses hosted by the University of Virginia in the USA and paste it in the table with its corresponding link, in size 8 font. Take into account that the spelling of the names may vary and that the online version of Ovid’s poem contains an alphabetical index of all the names used.
For the last column, conduct web research to find out whether the mythological figure(s) depicted in the painting and described in Ovid’s poem have inspired any contemporary artists. If so, document the name of the author, the work of art, the context in which it was made, and a link to the work or an article about it.
|Name, author, date|
|Which is the Myth depicted (with description of characters)?|
|Link to corresponding passage from Ovid’s Metamorphoses?|
|Name contemporary artist and work of art?|
|Name, author, date||The Death of Niobe’s Children, Johann König (First half of 17th century)|
|Which is the Myth depicted (with description of characters)?||The twin children of Latona, Phoebus (Apollo) and Phoebe (Artemis), kill all 14 of Niobe’s children in punishment for her refusal to worship Latona. From: Bk VI:204-266 The gods’ vengeance: Niobe’s sons are killed|
|Link to corresponding passage from Ovid’s Metamorphoses?||“There was a broad, open plain near the walls, flattened by the constant passage of horses, where many wheels and hard hooves had levelled the turf beneath them. There, a number of Amphion’s seven sons mounted on their strong horses, and sitting firmly on their backs, bright with Tyrian purple, guided them using reins heavy with gold. While Ismenus, one of these, who had been the first of his mother’s burdens, was wheeling his horse’s path around in an unerring circle, and hauling at the foaming bit, he cried out ‘Oh, I am wounded!’ and revealed an arrow fixed in his chest, and loosing the reins from his dying hands, slipped gradually, sideways, over his mount’s right shoulder.|
|Next Sipylus, hearing the sound of a quiver in the empty air, let out the reins, just as a shipmaster sensing a storm runs for it when he sees the cloud, and claps on all sail, so that not even the slightest breeze is lost. Still giving full rein, he was overtaken, by the arrow none can avoid, and the shaft stuck quivering in his neck, and the naked tip protruded from his throat. Leaning forward, as he was, he rolled down over the mane and the galloping hooves|
|Name contemporary artist and work of art?||https://www.widewalls.ch/banksy-art-from-gaza-and-then-more-banksy/ Banksy in Gaza – image of Niobe (courtesy of banksy.co.uk)|
Understand the various interpretations of the concept of ‘transformation’
As shown in the ‘Transformation’ clip, medical technologies enable us to change our appearance. This can vary from the reconstruction of limbs, to transgender individuals undergoing sex reassignment surgery, to injecting botox under our skin to make ourselves look younger. However, there is also a link between physical transformation and digital technology in the sense that social media offer the possibility to expose an ‘idealised’ version of one’s self, as well as having fun with friends by using face-morphing apps. In this assignment, the argument is put forward that digital technology enhances the tendency to be dissatisfied with real life and create alternative worlds. As such, you are invited to reflect on this position and your own use of social media.
Direct access to the life of celebrities who promote particular lifestyles enhances the tendency to be unsatisfied with one’s appearance or personality while digital technology facilitates the urge to ‘craft’ or ‘model’ a different personality then the one that is determined by our genes. In this assignment, you are going to explore this phenomenon which is linked to one of Ovid’s poems about a man named Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection.
While Campbell explains narcissism as a personality feature that is inherited or more likely to occur due to a particular upbringing, Metzger stresses the impact of social pressure in the formation of narcissism. Reflecting on the two videos, answer the following questions:
In a review by William Saletan in the New York Times, two books are discussed that are relevant to our topic: Dr. Elias Aboujaoude’s book Virtually You and Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken (both published in 2011). You can find the review about ⅓ down the page from the online course “Internet and Society,” offered by the online magazine Medium, Aboujaoude’s view on the impact of the internet on people’s mental health is juxtaposed with the positive view of game developer Jane McGonigal and compared to the worldview of two famous philosophers: Hobbes (Aboujaoude) vs. Rousseau (McGonigal). Keeping in mind the book review, respond to the following questions (max. 75 words per question):
While there are certainly negative aspects of social media that should be kept in mind, transforming our appearance with the help of apps can also be used simply for enjoyment. We can make fun of ourselves, our friends, or celebrities by adding features to our face or by distorting or morphing them. Let’s explore the inner workings and background behind some well-known and commonly-used digital transformation technologies.
What’s the difference in the way the presenter uses the term ‘narcissism’ (0:06-0:11) compared to how it’s used in Keith Campbell’s TED video and the Chloe Metzger’s blog post in Assignment 4a?
Learn how digital technology and social media enhance the potential for self-fashioning and experimenting with changing one’s appearance as well as how innovations in digital technology generate apps that can be used for entertainment.
At the end of the ‘Transformation’ clip, the question of whether or not we can trust digital technologies and the web is raised. The very existence of this teaching platform that can be accessed by anyone throughout the world at no cost other than an internet connection illustrates the enormous potential benefit of this technology. But as with anything in excess, there can be detrimental effects of exorbitant use of the web and of specific applications. There is the risk of addiction to video games or social media as well as the risk of isolation when people substitute digital connections for physical ones. You can end up in a filter bubble, meaning that you only receive and listen to information that connects and confirms your preferences and worldview. The risk that is most talked about at present, is that of the mobilizing power of unreliable and misleading news, also known as ‘fake news’. In these assignments, you are going to deal with the diverse ways in which digital technology can impact our lives.
One of the negative effects of excessive uses of the web and digital applications is the risk of increased depression and loneliness. As people substitute digital connections for physical ones, these negative effects are having larger and larger impacts around the world. In this assignment, you are going to learn about the context of some of these adverse effects.
Listen to the first 22 ½ minutes of this podcast by entrepreneur Anil Dash, titled: We Can’t Just Log Off: Mental Health and Tech, in which he talks about both the positive and negative potential of the web.
One of the experts who is interviewed by Anil Dash is Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, who is also mentioned in Assignment 4a. Dr. Aboujaoude discusses two elements that distinguish the transformation of society after the introduction of technologies such as the telephone, radio, and television, on the one hand, and after the introduction of the world wide web, on the other (6:46 - 9:04). Describe the two distinguishing features below:
Do you agree with Dr. Aboujaoude’s opinion about the impact of social media and app use on society? What are your personal experiences with this effect? (13:43 - 16:27)
Source criticism is essential for both historians and journalists; the crucial difference between the two is the time frame. Journalists cover contemporary facts and events, whereas historians analyse the past (and have the advantage of hindsight). One of the biggest challenges for historians is to understand both the selection and the manipulation processes that determine which historical sources are available, retrievable, and trustworthy online. Fortunately for historians, the risk of running into a forged copy of a document is relatively low compared to the amount of flawed information journalists are confronted with on a daily basis. To be able to trust the digital, we have to combine the critical approach of both historians and journalists. In this assignment, you are going to learn about the evolution of the concept of ‘fake news’ and why we have a natural tendency to be attracted to features of fake news.
‘Fake news’ has been a much debated topic in the last four years, especially in relation to the US presidency of Donald Trump and his distrust of the press.
|Incorrect or misleading news||Fake news|
|Who is creating it?|
|How is it created?|
|What is it about?|
Now, read the tab titled, ‘Why We Fall for Fake News’ about the role that cognitive biases play in how our brain interprets information.
Four aspects of this bias are listed below. Reflect on how these aspects play a role in your appreciation of news.
Hint: think of news on controversial issues. Examples might include Brexit, coronavirus, the climate crisis, the increasing numbers of refugees in Europe in recent years, the war in Syria, the news coverage of populist parties, and the news coverage of some of the largest and most influential companies in the world, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, or Apple.
If you click on the link in the caption of the Wikipedia cognitive bias visualisation shown at the end of the ‘Why We Fall for Fake News’ tab and then click on the + to magnify the image, you will end up with this high-resolution image of the four categories of biases:
In the table below, there is a list of psycho-sociological reflexes, each of which belongs in one of the four categories. Look up which category they belong in and put the matching number (1, 2, 3, or 4) after each term.
|The lake Wobegone effect|
|The Ikea effect|
|The Peltzman effect|
|The Google effect|
|The Bader Meinhof phenomenon|
|The Weber-Fechner law|
|The Semmelweis reflex|
|The Ostrich effect|
|Zero sum bias|
|Bike shedding effect|
|Peak and rule|
|The Halo effect|
|The Spotlight effect|
|The Von Restorff effect|
|Masked Man fallacy|
Now, choose two of the biases from each category, conduct web research, and add a short explanation (75 words max.) of their meaning in the table below
|1. What Should We Remember?||Cognitive Bias 1 - Cognitive Bias 2 -|
|2. Need To Act Fast||Cognitive Bias 1 - Cognitive Bias 2 -|
|3. Too Much Information||Cognitive Bias 1 - Cognitive Bias 2 -|
|4. Not Enough Meaning||Cognitive Bias 1 - Cognitive Bias 2 -|
Can you think of a topic in which you have recognized one of the effects described above in your own appreciation of news or knowledge?
The democratic nature of the web is both a blessing and a curse. The ease with which information can be published and spread without the filter of an expert opens up space for diverse voices, but at the same time it creates opportunities for manipulation and intentionally misleading the public. In the previous assignment, you learned about the evolution and specific character of ‘fake news’. In this assignment, you are going to explore different strategies to check the reliability of news.
In the webpage, A Citizen’s Guide to Fake News from Assignment 5b, the suggestions for verifying news are focused on assessing the quality of fact-checking websites, in order to be able to weigh the reliability of politically-oriented news in the United States.
What is the advice they give with regard to verifying information? Hint: Look at the tab ‘Why We Fall for Fake News.’
Another way to assess the reliability of information on the web is by using the acronym CRAP (also discussed in Assignment 3a), which stands for:
This acronym is said to come from the writer and journalist Ernest Hemingway, when asked what he regarded as a crucial skill to become a good journalist. It is said his answer was a good journalist needs ‘a built-in, shock proof, crap detector.’ Another famous quote with regard to the importance of distinguishing truth from lies is also attributed to an American writer, the author Mark Twain, without any evidence to verify the claim.
Watch this short Ted Ed lecture from Noah Tavlin which starts off with Twain’s quote and explains a recurrent feature in coverage of news called ‘circular reporting.’
List one of the examples given in the video that relates to English-speaking countries:
Doing your own web research, try to find a similar example in a different language (Fr, Ger, Sp, It, Nl, Dan, etc.):
We are now going to apply the CRAP principle to a number of web resources. Go to the website of the university Sewanee in Tennessee and open this guideline to CRAP. Try to answer the four key questions of two web resources (listed below) in two languages that you speak. You can also try out languages that you do not speak by using Google translate or another translation tool.
|CRAP Principles - Website 1|
|Purpose/Point of view:|
|CRAP Principles - Website 2|
|Purpose/Point of view:|
Assess the risks that are connected to the excessive use of the web as the sole mode of contact or information gathering and how to asses the quality of the information on the web.