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Posts Tagged ‘geocoding’

Getting The Message Out ~or~ How Not To Preach To The Choir

Posted by neuralgourmet on July 5, 2008

How Web 2.0 works

How Web 2.0 works

I’m going to forgo my normal weekly blog post here and instead point you to Tim Farley’s new blog Skeptical Software Tools. Tim only has one post of note up as of now, but it’s a doozy chock full of information on harnessing the power of Web 2.0 to promote skepticism. It’s based on a presentation given at The Amazing Meeting 6 a couple of weekends back.

In particular, Tim sees the primary goal of the skeptic as battling misinformation, and the internet is an important front in that war. As wonderful a tool as the internet is for disseminating information, misinformation is everywhere on the net. And the sad truth is that those who wish to spread misinformation tend to be far more numerous and much better funded than those who wish to combat misinformation. Like Tim says, “we are outmanned and outgunned.”

So what do we do? Tim argues that we need to be more systematic than we’ve been in the past. While blog posts and google bombs are all well and good, they are both primarily reactionary and often preaching to the choir. We need to find ways of getting the message out to people who won’t seek it out for themselves. And to that end, he believes that Web 2.0 technologies have a key role to play because they offer community, specialization, programmability and the ability to build a new site out of data provided by other sites (this is called a mashup). He also believes that we must tailor our message to those who are neither skeptics or believers and that specialization is crucial.

Tim goes on to give very specific examples of how skeptics can employ Web 2.0 in the service of contradicting misinformation. In particular he champions the use of RSS, Yahoo Pipes, Google Alerts, Google Custom Searches, iCalendar, microformats (particularly hReview), geo-coding, mashups and open data.

I won’t bother to summarize Tim’s excellent post any further because it really should be read by every skeptic seeking to use the net to get the message out. Ideally these techniques should be adopted by regional skeptical organizations as a way of both amplifying their own efforts and as a way of furthering skeptical community.

Tim Farley created and writes the web site What’s The Harm? dedicated to highlighting the plight of those who have suffered because of their, or others’, beliefs in misinformation.


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