The Age of Information

We live in an Age of Information. No longer resting on industrial production, our economy is now based on computerization and information technology. In some ways it has vastly improved our lives with increased access and connection; the answer to any question or ability to organize a group is seemingly at our fingertips with the swipe of a screen. In other ways, it creates disparity and leaves those without internet behind. And as the exponential growth in information continues we can get lost in the mountains of data available to us. With its free access, resources and expertise in the reference world, libraries can help close this information gap and provide guidance as we do our best to navigate these times.

Then there is “Fake News!”. Misleading or outright fictional stories as news have been around far longer than the most recent election cycle. From the War of the Worlds alien invasion radio scare in 1938, to the 2012 “Eagle Snatches Kid” hoax video created for a university class that got 17 million views in one day, or the most recent indictments of Russian nationals interfering in our electoral process through social media, fake news is made for many reasons. It has become both a common phrase and rallying cry for a variety of groups in recent times. But what exactly is it, what are its real world consequences, and how can you spot it? The MRV libraries are excited to host a series of programs facilitated by media/communications professor and consultant Rob Williams that will explore the who’s, how’s and why’s of Fake News, as well as some filters that can be applied in real time to whatever appears in your news feed.

Fake News and How to Spot It: Towards News we Can Use on Tuesday, March 27th at 7pm at the Moretown School will investigate our current information habits and look at different types of news along with an overview of the propaganda model. On Tuesday, April 3rd at 7pm at the Joslin Library, we will examine Fake News and How to Spot It: the Age of Print. Dr. Williams will take a deep dive into the five filters that explain how US news was created in the 20th Century. The series will conclude with Fake News and How to Spot It: the Age of Digital on Tuesday April 10th at 7pm at the Warren Library, which will cover five filters to help understand news created in the 21st Century. All three workshops are free and open to the public; for more details please contact any of the libraries or visit our websites.

If you prefer books instead of programs for information, stop in and check out some recent additions to our non-fiction collection. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly, we have added “Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by Kathryn Harkup. For an exploration of more recent times try, “A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea” by  Masaji Ishikawa. Or, perhaps you are ready to turn off the information stream for a bit, in which case check out “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” by Dan Harris. I Hope to see you at the library soon!