Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Information Literacy Discussed on NBC's Meet the Press 9/5/09

Perhaps I should have described Tom Brokaw's and Thomas Friedman's comments on NBC's Meet The Press as concerning our society's lack of information literacy skills. Below is an excerpt from the transcript.

MR. GREGORY: You talk about Van Jones (a special assistant to the President) as well, you know, the fact that in this, in this media age, what he said, by anybody's estimation, was objectionable, to sign a petition saying the government was behind 9/11. But it goes to something that's going on in this information age...

MR. FRIEDMAN: David, yeah...

MR. GREGORY: ...which is you can be a target real fast.

MR. FRIEDMAN: David, when everyone has a cell phone, everyone's a photographer. When everyone has access to YouTube, everyone's a filmmaker. And when everyone's a blogger, everyone's in newspaper. When everyone's a photographer, a newspaper and a filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. Tell your kids, OK, tell your kids, OK, be careful. Every move they make is now a digital footprint. You are on "Candid Camera." And unfortunately, the real message to young people, from all of these incidents, OK, and I'm not here defending anything anyone said, but from all of these incidents, is you know, really keep yourself tight, don't say anything controversial, don't think anything--don't put anything in print. You know, whatever you do, just kind of smooth out all the edges, and maybe you too--you know, when you get nominated to be ambassador to Burkina Faso, you'll be able to get through the hearing.


MR. BROKAW: Well, I've--one of the things I've been saying to audiences is this question comes up a lot, and a lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet. And my line to them is you have to vet information. You have to test it the same way you do when you buy an automobile or when you go and buy a new flat-screen television. You read the Consumer Reports, you have an idea of what it's worth and what the lasting value of it is. You have to do the same thing with information because there is so much disinformation out there that it's frightening, frankly, in a free society that depends on information to make informed decisions. And this is across the board, by the way. It's not just one side of the political spectrum or the other. It is across the board, David, and it's something that we all have to address and it requires society and political and cultural leaders to stand up and say, "this is crazy." We just can't function that way.

MR. FRIEDMAN: You know, David, I just want to say one thing to pick up on Tom's point, which is the Internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, left, right, center, up, down, and requires that kind of filtering by anyone. And I always felt, you know, when modems first came out, when that was how we got connected to the Internet, that every modem sold in America should actually come with a warning from the surgeon general that would have said, "judgment not included," OK? That you have to upload the old-fashioned way. Church, synagogue, temple, mosque, teachers, schools, you know. And too often now people say, and we've all heard it, "But I read it on the Internet," as if that solves the bar bet, you know? And I'm afraid not.

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