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08/29/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Internet and Democracy

The Internet: A room of our own?

The prevalence of pseudoscience on the internet is something I never gave much serious thought to before. This and celebrity gossip sites and blogs somehow seem to come out of the same place – it’s so easy to get content up and many are trying to make money off of the content through ad sales. Searching for more information on pseudoscience on the web, I browsed through Quackwatch, a watchdog site mainly geared towards exposing diet and medical pseudoscience. I tend to think of the web as a nebulous free space, it’s important for me to keep in perspective that people have varying levels of suspicion towards what they read.

As much as I use the web to read and research, there was a lot in this article that I was unfamiliar with. I was not aware of the popularity of Meetup before reading this piece. Also, the Ushahidi project mentioned was a revelation for me. Usahahidi is a free and open source platform to crowdsource crisis information.  It sounds like a fantastic and incredibly important way of sharing information. The most up to date information about Usahahidi seems to be on the Ushahidi blog or the Ushahidi twitter. Searching for more information on this project led to an article on the use of Ushahidi in Haiti following the earthquake.

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4 Comments

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  1. Mindy McAdams / Aug 30 2010 5:16 PM

    This post is only 219 words. It is too short. Please review the instructions in Required Work.

    I feel skeptical toward the site at your first link (Quackwatch). Although it _does_ appear to be a site that seriously debunks pseudoscience and false claims about health, the design of the website is very amateurish. I don’t feel confident about it. I’m not sure it can be trusted. However, I found a recent article at TechDirt (a site I do trust) that discusses Quackwatch in a serious way — so maybe it is a legitimate site, even though it has a very poor design.

    Your links to Ushahidi and Meetup are okay (although Morozov really does not discuss Meetup in his article).

    There is not much here to indicate that you read Morozov’s article. I’m sure you did read it, but you have not provided real evidence of that in what you have written.

    • francescalyn / Aug 31 2010 12:47 PM

      I do not really feel like the simple design of Quackwatch is “amateurish” – it’s simple and basic. I see a lot of “professional looking” websites that are just a poor attempt at distracting readers from poor writing and suspect sources.
      I included Meetup because Morozov mentioned it in such a casual way as if it was something as ubiquitous as facebook, which it is not.
      I think that I might have not provided enough real evidence in my post as I thought the article was rather short and seemed to lack any real focus. A lot of topics were mentioned within the piece but they were just as quickly discarded.

  2. Mindy McAdams / Aug 31 2010 3:09 PM

    Meetups are not a big thing in Gainesville — although in many other university towns, there are a lot of Meetups to choose from. Here is one example of a hiking group in Gainesville:

    Gainesville Adventure Meetup Group

    Gainesville, FL
    770 Adventurers

    Meet people who like adventures in the High Springs, Alachua, and Gainesville area – getting thrills through adventurous sports like climbing, hiking, kayaking, camping, bunge…

    Next Meetup

    Rock Climbing at the Gainesville Rock Gym

    Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014, 6:30 PM
    2 Attending

    Check out this Meetup Group →

    There are groups for wine-tasting, Scrabble, dancing, and many other activities!

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