Accessibility is a term I’m fond of due to the fact that information is everywhere and you simply have to look for it. However it is a somewhat startling truth that information is being reinterpreted constantly to the point where it is hard to know what the truth is and what amounts to an amateurish collection of supposed facts. With the recent bombardment of the news cycles with stories about Wikileaks, I’ve found myself thinking about where I get my information and how I get my information.

One thing I’ve noticed is that whenever you enter a search term into a search engine, the first thing that comes up for the most part is Wikipedia. There’s nothing wrong with Wikipedia coming up first, you can’t reproach a company for their search engine optimization abilities, but there is a problem with the information that you find there. Most of the content that comes from that source was placed there by the average person who perhaps does not have as much depth of information as a professional who has spent his entire life studying or working on the topic. But while Wikipedia may not have mastered accuracy, there are hardly any sources that have.

Years ago, I might have turned to news sources to find the information I need on something –that is if they covered that specific topic –but now that is out of the equation as more and more news organization are becoming more opinion based and the facts are hidden under an avalanche of biased spin. With everything becoming more dependent on electronic systems –even libraries have gone electronic –the old search through books for your research technique has become a relic of what seems like a distant past. We have more options today –at least it appears that way –but there is no clear cut criterion for figuring out who holds the facts and does not. We all have to find methods that work for us and compare as many sources as possible to get the facts.

On a personal level, I use academic sources to find the information I need. They may not cover all the topics in the world, but I find them to be much more dependable than the sources that pop up in the search engines. A little extra time to sift through multiple databases and journals may seem arduous to begin with but it pays off in the long run when you know that you have found enough information to make a detailed analysis of whatever it is that you are working on. This is not to say that academic sources are not biased, but one has to believe that those in academia care about their research and their reputations a little more than those working for these money obsessed newspapers who’ll do anything to sell, or those filling their spare time with amateurish –though entertaining –fiction on Wikipedia.

Charles is pursuing a BA in Communications and Culture.  He is the author of “Fields of Discovery”, and “On the Eve of Departure”.  He is also an avid Arsenal and Real Madrid fan.

Advertisements