Category Archives: Information politics

Ideas, Events, Resources and Other Spring Things!

 World Book Day – April 23

CALENDAR

In truth,World Book Day, sponsored by UNESCO, is a movable feast, celebrated at various times by individual nations.  The official April 23 date goes back to 1923 when established book Spanish booksellers. The date honors the birth of Shakespeare and the death of both Shakespeare and Cervantes, both of whom died on the same date, April 23, 1616.  The day is also known as UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day.

On the virtual heels of and in the spirit of World Book we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day on April 26– a day more honored in the breach in these conflicted times.  The event was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization to “raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trademarks and designs impart on daily life” and “to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of societies across the globe.” (World Intellectual Property Organization statement)

 April is also National Poetry Month(https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/national-poetry-month-faq)   It’s not too late.  Consider the excellent guide to Poetry Resources produced by the Library of Congress. The guide includes the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, the Archive of Recorded Poetry & Literature, begun in 1932 under the aegis of Allen Tate, LC Consultant in Poetry, the Center for the Book sponsored Webcasts, Conversations with African Poets and Writers, Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Webcasts, the Library of Congress Poetry Webcasts, a comprehensive listing of LC’s recent poetry webcasts, the National Book Festival, and well as webcasts and recordings of countless individual poets, e.g. thee webcast of Lucille Clifton, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Pinsky, James Dickey, Stephen Spender, Charles Simic, Kurt Vonnegut  and scores of others .   Descriptions and links to these and more poetry resources of LC.  A good link to explore the treasures is this: https://www.loc.gov/poetry/— or try this search strategy: https://www.loc.gov/collections/archive-of-recorded-poetry-and-literature/about-this-collection/  For last minute National Poetry Month resources check here: https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home

New from LC: https://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2018/04/new-poetry-podcast-series-launches/?loclr=ealocb


EVENTS – A smattering of the possibilities

Talk of the Stacks. Sponsored by Friends of Hennepin County Library.

  • April 24Alex Wagner. In her nonfiction narrative debut, Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging, Alex Wagner, anchor and correspondent for CBS News and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, takes a journey into her own ancestry and discovers the ways race and immigration constantly redefine the American experience.
  • May 16 —Tracy K. Smith– U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize Winner Tracy K. Smith deftly dissects the nature of citizenship in a time when the American past and present continuously collide, as she discusses her latest collection of poems, Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press, April 2018).

April 28-10:00 AM – Minnesota Muslims Up Close. Tamim Saidiwill lead a discussion of the diversity and unity of the Muslim experience in Minnesota.  Sponsored by Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum.  Washburn Library.  Free and open.  5244 Lyndale Ave South, Mpls.

May 18-20   Art-a-Whirl  https://nemaa.org/art-a whirlhttps://nemaa.org/about/

Sunday, May 20, Peace and Justice Forum:  Larry Johnson and Allan Bostelemann discuss the topic “Reformation or Revolution: What should be the role of the Church on Military Killing?” 12:15 Central Lutheran Church, 3rdAvenue and 12thStreet.  Lunch available 11:45 – free will offering.

Through July 29 – “Allen Rupperesberg: Walker – Intellectual property 1968-2018:  https://walkerart.org/calendar/2018/allen-ruppersberg-intellectual-property-19682

REPORTS & RESOURCES

Online resources from the Library of Congres

  • 2018 marks the 100thanniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein. The Library of Congress is celebrating by making available online musical manuscripts and scrapbooks from the digital collection – 23700 items, including photos, writings, correspondence, scripts, musical sketches, scrapbooks and audio recordings.   At this writing the Bernstein Collection at LC consists of an estimated 400,000 items, including manuscripts, correspondence, audio and video recordings, photos and more.  The Library will celebrate the Bernstein centennial with a Spring mini-fest May 12-19. (loc.gov/concerts/bernstein100.html) More information at https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-18-038/library-launches-leonard-bernstein-centennial-celebration-with-thousands-of-bernstein-items-online/2018-04-10/
  • Immerse yourself in a virtual tour of the Library. In this video, Janice McKelvey discusses the history of LC,including the era when it was located within the U.S. Capitol from 1800-1987 https://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=8268&loclr=eanw.
  • If your interest is in expanding resources in music, learn about NLS Music Notes, a blog for and about those who want, need or provide the special format music of braille, audio, and large print; the showcase includes classical and popular music, new titles, interviews of and articles about blind and low vision musicians, music braille transcripters and features about current music events. https://blogs.loc.gov/nls-music-notes/
  • One fascinating post is Harriet Tubman: Teaming Up to Acquire a Rare Photograph https://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2018/03/harriet-tubman-teaming-up-to-acquire-a-rare-photograph/
  • Learn more about the work of library conservatorswith this video: “Conservation of the Emily Howland album”https://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=8267

 “Secret Service and White House win Rosemary Award for Worst in Open Government in 2017 https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news-rosemary-award/foia/2018-03-12/secret-service-white-house-win-rosemary-award-worst-open

 “Our favorite signs from the 2018 March for Science https://blog.credomobile.com/2018/04/favorite-signs-2018-march-science/

 Almost 50 years Frederick Wiseman’s documentaries are now available on Kanopy – free to anyone with a library cad, a faculty or student ID. https://slate.com/culture/2018/04/frederick-wisemans-documentaries-are-now-streaming-via-kanopy.html

 “Enchanting illustrations carved from old books” https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/art-carved-from-old-books

 “Here are the ‘Transparency’ policy documents the EPA does not want you to see” by Yogin Kothari, Washington representative, Center for Science and Democracy, April 21, 2018. Union of Concerned Scientists. https://blog.ucsusa.org/yogin-kothari/here-are-the-transparency-policy-documents-the-epa-does-not-want-you-to-see

“Yale’s insanely popular happiness course now open to everyone’ by http://mentalfloss.com/article/540264/yales-insanely-popular-happiness-course-now-open-everyone-online, Michele Debzac, April 2018

“John Moss and the roots of the Freedom of Information Act: Worldwide implications https://unredacted.com/2018/04/17/john-moss-and-the-roots-of-the-freedom-of-information-act-worldwide-implications/

 Free online library – https://www.childrenandnature.org/?search=main&s=eeRESEARCH

“Raising teens in a new country” http://www.brycs.org/documents/upload/Raising-Teens-New-Country.pdf

 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/two-museum-directors-say-its-time-tell-unvarnished-history-us-180968341/  “History is not pretty and sometimes it is vastly different than what we’ve been taught: – Lonnie Bunch and Kevin Gover

 Craig Silverman, http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/03/living-in-a-sea-of-false-signals-are-we-being-pushed-from-trust-but-verify-to-verify-then-trust/  March 8 2018, NiemanLab “This new initiative deploys humans to review, research, and rate U.S. news sites” NiemanLab, March 5, 2018

 The rise and fall of the Hormel Girls, who sold America on SPAM https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/history-of-spam-hormel-girls

 INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY SATURDAY, APRIL 28

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Putting a face on truth-seeking

I personally think honestly disclosing rather than hiding one’s subjective values makes for more honest and trustworthy journalism. But no journalism – from the most stylistically ‘objective’ to the most brazenly opinionated – has any real value unless it is grounded in facts, evidence, and verifiable data, Glenn Greenwald

In recent months I have spent far too much time viewing and listening to the saga unraveling in this, the Trumpian era.  One thing that has been of particular interest to me is the way in which we as viewers/listeners have come to “put a face” on those who dare to share their knowledge and, even more, their opinions.  In many cases, respected print journalists have emerged from behind the by-line to face the camera and/or microphone.

Whether it’s Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow, Phil Rucker or Joy Reid, we now understand the news, in part, through the personality of the presenter.  Though this fact marks a change abhorrent to some who value journalistic objectivity above all, it is a fact of journalistic life.  To be honest, I appreciate putting a face on the skilled – and opinionated – journalists whose information and opinion I can assess  for myself.

My ultimate goal is to learn the truth.   This de-mystification of the process prompts me to ponder how these journalists locate, evaluate, and shape the information they share.  As I view or listen I match the presentation with the process;  I envision the roles of those who manage or at a minimum influence the information chain.  As the investigative journalist reports on her findings, my mind is asking how do you know that?  What resources did you use?  Who determined those resources?  Who organized it?  Who archived that information?  Who asked the questions?  How were the statistics collected?  What’s missing?  How do you know what you know?  I tend to put a face on each of the players on whom the journalist depends.

Mine is a subjective analysis of the information chain itself.  And still it’s time to put a face on what is an invisible, complex, implicit but undeniable – and ultimately very human – process.

Those who would mess with the information chain know the links all too well.  They are at the ready to hinder the flow, shape the issues, determine the players, and otherwise weaponize information.  Similarly, those who would squelch the truth are adept at determining that data are not collected, much less published, that voices are ignored, that stories are overlooked or skewed, that money talks – and is heard.  https://thinkprogress.org/trump-officials-erase-climate-data-2a4e4fe81f96/

Which is why the time has come to “put a face” on the process of information collection, interpretation, organization, preservation, distribution – all those “backroom” sorts of things that ensure that essential information moves through the information chain efficiently and effectively.  This will require more collaboration among the professionals who are the links in the chain; it will also require greater attribution.  Above all, this demands educating information consumers about the characteristics and function of the links in the information chain.

We the people, the decisions-makers in this democracy, depend on solid, verifiable information – truths – so that we are individually and collectively equipped to make good decisions in our own lives and in the life of the democracy.

Important as journalists are, their work depends on a powerful and dependable information chain that is forged by an unsung team of professionals, each responsible for a link, all responsible for the whole.  The work depends on intellectual and financial commitment.

It’s time for the professions to speak out, to demand respect – and financial support.  And it’s time for concerned citizens to understand the critical links in the information chain.  We need to put a face on the critical role and skilled work of those who gather, organize, preserve and otherwise make information accessible to journalists and other information presenters whose research, voices and visages convey that information to the public.

Fact checking after the fact is putting a band aid on misinformation.

* * *

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/advocates-sue-federal-agencies-to-obtain-lgbtq-policy-documents/ar-BBJWOAU

https://unredacted.com/2018/03/07/foia-a-colossus-under-assault/

 

 

SUNSHINE WEEK MARCH 11-17, 2018

Sunshine Week March 11-17, 2018

As we emerge from the snowbanks and the Winter of Our Extreme Discontent, it is encouraging to know that Sunshine Week is at hand.   (http://sunshineweek.org)  This year we honor and applaud with unparalleled appreciation the role of a free press as the bulwark of this democracy.

Each year the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCCOGI)  takes a lead in Minnesota’s recognition of Sunshine Week.    One important aspect of MNCOGI’s celebration of Sunshine Week is selection of the recipient of the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award.

MNCOGI has announced that the John R. Finnegan Award 2018 will honor Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres.  Serres is recognized for his investigative series Left to Suffer, an in-depth study and report on the painful stories of elder abuse victims and their families.   Serres’ publication in the Star Tribune reflects the journalist’s exhaustive review of audit reports, state records and other public information resources.  The series has led to readers’ awareness of the crisis and to bold action on the part of advocacy groups and the Governor.

The Coalition has also announced that attorney Paul Hannah will be honored with the Finnegan Freedom of Information Career Achievement Award.

Both awards will be presented at the annual Freedom of Information Day recognition set for Friday, March 16, 1:00 p.m. at Minneapolis Central Library Pohlad Auditorium.

What I’m thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson’s saying that he’d rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press .~ Esther Dyson

 

 

 

 

Bamboozled no more…..

If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle.  We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth.  The bamboozle has captured us.  It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken.  Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.  ~ Carl Sagan

One way to come to grips with the challenge We the People face at this juncture is to frame the information crisis in an alternate context.  This repot by First Draft News is a useful tool to reorder the mental format for thinking.  One year into the Era of Our Discontent, we struggle mightily to recognize the complexity of information disorder, to recognize that the very premise is “disorder.”  We fail to recognize – or perhaps admit – that the complexity of information disorder online” starts from the premise of “disorder”.  Consider this:  https://firstdraftnews.org/coe_infodisorder/

The struggle to unravel the intent and complexities of our information state is a shared challenge:

We the People face today’s challenge with both heads and hearts.  Take just a minute to heed the words and appreciate the attitudes of these wise gentleman as they speak with both:  https://vimeo.com/253191   To read their position paper on Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression click here: https://jmp.princeton.edu/statement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trendy tools to translate post-truth terms

Learning a new language is always a challenge.  When the language to be acquired is designed to confuse and conquer, the task requires readily accessible  reference resources that clarify definitions and suggest appropriate usage.  The challenge is confounded when the language is repurposed with wild abandon.

Fortunately, lexicographers and wordsmiths are at the ready to capitalize on the opportunity presented by a newly contrived language, particularly when the use of that language is designed to misinform the public and to weaponize the native tongue.

Following is a listing of user aids that have been hastily crafted to clarify terminology currently in popular use in the conduct of political, governmental, and financial discourse:

Alt-right glossary https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Alt-right_glossary

‘Post-truth’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/15/post-truth-named-word-of-the-year-by-oxford-dictionaries

Your post-election glossary, from ‘alt-right’ to ‘fake news’ http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/16/us/post-election-glossary-trnd/index.html

Donald Trump Glossary https://qz.com/845040/donald-trump-glossary/

Glossary for the age of alternative facts: https://www.thefactinista.com/pages/glossary-for-the-age-of-alternatie-facts

The 2016 Presidential Election: A devil’s glossary https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/the-2016-presidential-election-a-devils-glossary/505901/

Post-truth, propaganda, and bullshit: a glossary https://senseandreference.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/post-truth-propaganda-and-bullshit-a-glossary/

Cyberbullying Glossary, Cyberbullying Research Center https://cyberbullying.org/glossary

What They Say vs. What They Mean: An Inside-the-Beltway Glossary.  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/28/what-the-say-cs-what-they-mean-inside-beltway-glossary

Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and   murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.~ George Orwell

Weaponization of information-Can truth survive?

Long ago and far away a library educator friend published an early info age book that promoted and explained the role of the library as an access point to information useful to the citizen activist.  Her intent was positive, to explain to activists the potential of reliable, authoritative, timely information that would affirm and validate a proposed action.  When her publisher suggested the title “Armed for action” she objected to the militaristic tone….

Now I realize that my friend was prematurely wise to eschew the “armed” image.  In this age information has morphed into the transportable  “weapon of choice”  to foment political action.  Though weaponizing information is usually attributed the Russians it is important to acknowledge that Putin’s tactics are not unique…

To be certain of the implicit evil of weaponized information, I checked with Merriam-Webster to affirm that use of the word “weapon” definitely connotes negative intent: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weapon

In truth, information is simply a resource, the user determines the use… My friend’s benevolent theme may seem naïve now – though just when information deserves no blame for the fact that it’s been weaponized.  Though history is replete with lies, the digital age opens the floodgates to their unfettered flow and proliferation.

And so we are drowning in a flood of commentaries on the weaponization of information; a smattering of opinion pieces are listed below.

Okay, information can be used as a weapon.  And yet the essential power lies in the receiver of information who is challenged to think and act according to the content and source of the information.  The “armor” we need today rests with the individual or institution that will take or resist  action based on the weaponized information.

As a society, we are called upon to grapple with the challenge to make “critical thinking skills” the norm—or in today’s parlance, how do we “normalize” critical thinking…  I prefer, and frequently quote,  my good friend Ruth Myers who would often ask, How do we inoculate learners with a healthy dose of “perceptive paranoia?”

The Founders, influenced by Jefferson,  envisioned a democracy founded on citizen access to and wise assessment of information.  Knowing this, we should focus not so much on the weaponry as on how we harness the power of good information (aka truth) to support this democracy.  In a word, how do we sustain a political system based on truth, and arm “we the people” with the power to recognize bald-faced lies when they are aimed at us with malicious intent.

RELATED READ: Social Media Helped Trump Win By ‘Dumbing Down the World,’ Twitter Founder Says  https://www.printfriendly.com/print?url_s=uGGCF_~_PdN_~_PcS_~_PcSJJJmpBzzBAqErnzFmBEt_~_PcSArJF_~_PcS

Tomorrow’s journalists – challenges, rights, and great promise

The First Amendment is not so construed as to award merit badges for intrepid but mistaken or careless reporting. Misinformation has not merit in itself; standing alone it is antithetical to the purposes of the First Amendment as the calculated lie… The sole basis for protecting publishers who spread false information is that otherwise the truth would too often be suppressed. Supreme Court Justice Byron White

As often happens thinking and learning about a topic leads me to deep thoughts on where we go from here, how we are the creators of our own future.  Thus, reflecting on a recent post about Constitution Day (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/we-the-people-celebrate-constitution-day-by-learning/) led me to reflect on our role as individuals on whom the Founding Fathers depended to meet their high expectations – specifically, 21st Century economic, technological and political  challenges that re-order the historic relationship between government, the press – and “we the people.”

As is their way, my thoughts turned to what comes next – Who and what forces will work to preserve the inalienable right to know?  What are characteristics, the status, the working environment of the nation’s journalists?   And thus I found myself wondering what are the influences on aspiring journalists, what is their training, and what will lure a fledging seeker of truth to risk a life as a professional journalist?

Clearly, these concerns were shared by those far wiser:

Moreover, the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Committee has produced a resource guide specifically related to Constitution Day 2017. http://jeasprc.org/2017-constitution-day-lessons/.  In fact. the Scholastic Press Rights Committee is an information mecca of essentials.  The Committee has published a video intro and links to new materials, lessons learned and timely resources on the rights of student journalists.

Other timely resources include these:

  • An article by Matthew Smith on the “importance of independent active press” focuses on the Constitutional rights aspect of student journalism focuses on the local scene: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2016/05/06/your-right-to-know-state-should-protect-student-journalists/
  • The Journalism Education Association report entitled “Promoting Scholastic Press Rights Legislation: A blueprint for success” is exactly what the title suggests, a comprehensive blueprint for action. This is thorough and timely review of the rights of student journalists, steps to be taken in a student press rights action plans, related organizations that support student journalists’ rights, sample laws and recommended language. One essential feature of this resource is an excellent listing of related organizations, historical information about past legislation, and the names of experts who can offer opinions about legislative language.
  • The JEA also hosts a robust website, http://jeasprc.org that features a unique “Tools of Truth Landing Page” that covers current topics related to student journalists’ rights  http://jeasprc.org/tools-of-truth-landing-page/
  • The Student Press Law Center, established in the post-Watergate era, now headquartered in Virginia, focuses on the legal rights of high school and college journalists: https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Student+Press+Law+Center&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
  • The National Scholastic Press Association (http://studentpress.org/nspa/), located near the campus of the University of Minnesota, “promotes the standards and ethics of good journalism as accepted and practiced by print, broadcast and electronic media in the United States,”

Constitution Day 2017 inspires us to take a long view of a free press.  To do so demands that we get a better sense of what’s happening in student journalism.  Some indicators are close at hand:

In high schools and colleges throughout the nation young journalists are tackling major issues of social justice, civil rights, press freedom and the right to know.  Their rights demand attention and deserve recognition.

“I became a journalist is to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”Henry Luce

IMPORTANT UPDATE: https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/aug/28/Student-Journalist-FOIA-Grant/