Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

Editorial

Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education

Editorial

Article excerpt

Pity the future historian. At first glance, it would seem apparent that the historian of the future would have all the advantages over those of us who have scanned through card catalogs, newspapers, and other print media manually, waited weeks for interlibrary loans, or even spent days, weeks, and months in the musty, dusty stacks of an actual library. Searches were physically laborious at times, often leading to dead-end travel or time-consuming reroutes. The skeptical among us reached out for more sources to verify and confirm to the extent possible.

The development of the Internet and its contemporary search tools made it possible to find creditable information from a living room couch. As the hard copy archives continue to go digital, we have access to sources that would have taken mounds of money and time in previous generations.

So why the pity? The future historian will need to wade through much more data, perhaps experience information overload, and worse, be subjected to exponentially more misinformation. This became ever so apparent to me as I was reading a book titled Trust Me, I'm Lying. (1) This was a hateful little book, really. The author, Ryan Holiday, is a self-admitted media manipulator or, more generously, an Internet marketing specialist. It describes how bloggers affect journalism to the extent that it is almost impossible to know what the truth actually is.

Every serious researcher knows that Wikipedia has never been considered a scholarly resource. But Holiday describes how it has become the de facto source for bloggers worldwide. The problem is not the scholars' reliance on Wikipedia. It is the journalists who accept blogs as a source and then publish it in more "reputable" media which in turn become potential data for the scholar. Bloggers routinely use Wikipedia to manipulate an angle on a story. Holiday says that he has conned Reuters, ABC News, the Associated Press, and the New York Times with data to increase publicity on a topic or product irrespective of truth. (2)

There was a time when newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle could borrow freely from the Chicago Tribune and it was reasonable to assume that there was a standard of verification and trust. Those old rules of using a "reputable source" exist no longer according to Holiday. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a website used by numerous reporters for virtually every major media outlet to verify sources. …

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