A Consumer's Guide to Information
The book, published December 17, 2016, was inspired by the huge social rifts revealed on our society by the 2016 election as it played out on social media. I saw then - and it has only gotten worse - problems that reflect the same fundamentals of reading and thinking that I see in my classroom every day and that, as a historian, I have watched various societies reckon with through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Since 2016 there has been increasing awareness about fake news and viral guides to avoiding it, but I believe the problem is a much wider one, where many of us (not just young people!) have trouble navigating the constantly changing landscape of the information revolution we’re just beginning to recognize is moving the earth beneath our feet. While the level of destabilization has reached a crisis point, it didn't come out of nowhere: mass media and information crises began with the industrial and political revolutions of the nineteenth century.
The book is about spotting fake news, but also problems in real news and weaknesses in articles presenting opinion and analysis. It’s about interacting with people online productively and safely. It’s about not getting conned, and keeping our sanity. I believe that all these skills are interrelated, and that as important as it is to realize how much of what we see online is “fake,” it’s much more important to think critically about all the ways we process information.
Are you in Publishing?
I self-published the book back in 2016 to make it available immediately and as cheaply as possible. I intend to eventually update the book and combine it with a brief and accessible history of the information revolution from 1600 to the present. That version will be submitted to trade presses. Contact me if you're interested.
Available for Kindle or in paperback from Amazon, and in all ebook formats from Smashwords.com. The book is also available from most other ebook vendors in their respective formats. Like the book on Facebook for updates.
A Consumer’s Guide to Information: How to Avoid Losing Your Mind on the Internet is about how to use the basic critical thinking skills that I teach every day to navigate the onslaught of information brought to us by the internet and our mobile devices.