- A media literacy handbook for Israel-Gaza: A new "breaking news consumer handbook" from On The Media.
- Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.
- This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018, 2022
- Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading
A media literacy handbook for Israel-Gaza (permalink)
Media explainers are a cheap way to become an instant expert on everything from billionaire submarine excursions to hellaciously complex geopolitical conflicts, but On The Media's "Breaking News Consumers' Handbooks" are explainers that help you understand other explainers:
The latest handbook is an Israel-Gaza edition. It doesn't aim to parse fine distinctions over the definition of "occupation" or identify the source of shell fragments. Rather, it offers seven bullet points' worth of advice on weighing all the other news you hear about the war:
I. "Headlines are obscured by the fog of war"
Headline writers have a hard job under the best of circumstances – trying to snag your interest in a few words. Headlines can't encompass all the nuance of a story, and they are often written by editors, not the writers who produced the story. Between the imperatives for speed and brevity and the broken telephone between editors and writers, it's easy for headlines to go wrong, even when no one is attempting to mislead you. Even reliable outlets will screw up headlines sometimes – and that likelihood goes way up in times like these. You gotta read the story, not just the headline.
II. Know red flags for bullshit
The factually untrue information that spreads furthest tends to originate with a handful of superspreader accounts. Whether these people are Just Wrong or malicious disinfo peddlers, they share a few characteristics that should trip your BS meter and prompt extra scrutiny:
- High-frequency posting
Emotionally charged framing
Posts that purport to be summaries or excerpts from news outlets, but do not include links to the original
The phrase "breaking news" (no one has that many scoops)
III. Don't trust screenshots
Screenshots of news stories, tweets, and other social media should come with links to the original. It's just too damned easy to fake a screenshot.
IV. "Know your platform"
It used to be that Twitter got a lot of first-person accounts from people in the thick of crises, while Facebook and Reddit contained commentary and reposts. Today, Twitter is just another aggregator. This time around, there's lots of first-person, real-time reporting coming off Telegram (it runs well on old phones and doesn't chew up batteries). Instagram is widely used in both Israel and the West Bank.
V. "Crisis actors" aren't a thing
People who attribute war images to "crisis actors" are either deluded or lying. There's plenty of ways to distort war news, but paying people to pretend to be grieving family members is essentially unheard of. Any explanation that involves crisis actors is a solid reason to permanently block that source.
VI. There's plenty of ways to verify stuff that smells fishy
TinEye, Yandex and Google Image Search are all good tools for checking "breaking" images and seeing if they're old copypasta ganked from earlier conflicts (or, you know, video-games). The fact that an image doesn't show up in one of these searches doesn't guarantee its authenticity, of course.
VII. Think before you post
Israel-Gaza is the most polluted media pool yet. Don't make it worse.
There's plenty more detail on this (especially on the use of verification tools) in Brooke Gladstone's radio segment:
The media environment sucks, and warrants skepticism and caution. But we also need to be skeptical of skepticism itself! As danah boyd started saying all the way back in 2018, weaponized media literacy leads to conspiratorialism:
Remember, the biggest peddlers of "fake news" are also the most prolific users of the term. For a lot of these information warriors, the point isn't to get you to believe them – they'll settle for you believing nothing. "Flood the zone with bullshit" is Steve Bannon's go-to tactic, and it's one that his acolytes have picked up and multiplied.
It's important to be a critical thinker, but there's plenty of people who've figured out how to weaponize a critical viewpoint and turn it into nihilism. Remember, the guy who wrote How To Lie With Statistics was a tobacco industry shill who made his living obfuscating the link between smoking and cancer. It's absolutely possible to lie with statistics, but it's also possible to use statistics to know the truth, as Tim Harford explains in his 2021 must-read book The Data Detective:
There's a world of difference between being misled and being brainwashed. A lot of today's worry about "disinformation" and "misinformation" has the whiff of a moral panic:
It's possible to have a nuanced view of this subject – to take steps to enure you're not being tricked without equating crude tricks like sticking a fake BBC chyron on a 10-year-old image with unstoppable mind-control:
Hey look at this (permalink)
- Comments on the September 6, 2023 Draft of a WIPO Broadcasting Treaty, the Definitions, Scope of Application, National Treatment and Formalities https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/research/110/
Nigeria: the best copyright law in the world? https://www.eifl.net/blogs/nigeria-best-copyright-law-world (h/t Corynne McSherry)
This day in history (permalink)
#20yrsago My notes from Decentralized Economic Systems and Monetary Evolution https://craphound.com/fom2003-decentralizedeconomicsystems.txt
#20yrsago Fox threatens to sue Fox over Simpsons https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/oct/29/tvnews.internationalnews
#20yrsago Extended iCal rant from a timezone warrior https://memex.craphound.com/2003/10/30/extended-ical-rant-from-a-timezone-warrior/
#15yrsago Headlong: laser-fine YA novel about kids’ friendships and escaping destiny from Kathe Koja https://memex.craphound.com/2008/10/30/headlong-laser-fine-ya-novel-about-kids-friendships-and-escaping-destiny-from-kathe-koja/
#15yrsago Bat-Manga: the lost Japanese Batman comics of 1966 https://memex.craphound.com/2008/10/29/bat-manga-the-lost-japanese-batman-comics-of-1966/
#10yrsago Giving no-strings-attached money to the world’s poorest produces remarkably good results https://www.economist.com/international/2013/12/12/pennies-from-heaven
#10yrsago Spanish PM summons US ambassador to explain NSA mass-surveillance of Spaniards https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/28/spain-summons-us-ambassador-nsa-calls,/a>
#10yrsago Statistics Done Wrong: a guide to spotting and avoiding stats errors https://www.statisticsdonewrong.com
#10yrsago David Cameron threatens injunction against the Guardian to stop further Snowden leak publications https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/28/david-cameron-nsa-threat-newspapers-guardian-snowden
#5yrsago Consumer Reports finds that D-Link’s home camera sends unencrypted video without unique passwords https://www.consumerreports.org/electronics-computers/privacy/d-link-camera-poses-data-security-risk-consumer-reports-finds-a8814384448/
#5yrsago Is this the full list of US cities that have bought or considered Predpol’s predictive policing services? https://memex.craphound.com/2018/10/30/is-this-the-full-list-of-us-cities-that-have-bought-or-considered-predpols-predictive-policing-services/
#5yrsago Trump FCC official publicly lying about censorship on municipal broadband https://www.vice.com/en/article/bj49j8/fcc-falsely-claims-community-broadband-an-ominous-threat-to-the-first-amendment
#5yrsago Bram Stoker’s reference materials for Dracula discovered at the London Library https://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/dracula
#1yrago Adobe steals your color https://pluralistic.net/2022/10/28/fade-to-black/#trust-the-process
Today's top sources:
- A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING
Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS JAN 2025
The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS FEB 2024
Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM
Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION
Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM
Latest podcast: Microincentives and Enshittification https://craphound.com/news/2023/10/23/microincentives-and-enshittification/
- The Internet Con at the Internet Archive (virtual), Oct 31
Hackaday Supercon, Nov 4 (Pasadena)
CBC IDEAS, Nov 16 (Stratford, ON)
Inspiring the Next Generation, Nov 16 (Stratford, ON)
Generation of Lost Causes (Toronto, Nov 22)
Who Is Watching Big Tech? (Toronto, Nov 27)
The Lost Cause at The Strand (NYC), Nov 29
The Lost Cause at Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill), Dec 7
- A Drink with Cory Doctorow (The Idler)
Equity Mates Investing podcast
Economics and Other Science Fictions (Everyday Anarchism)
- "The Internet Con": A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech (Verso) September 2023 (http://seizethemeansofcomputation.org). Signed copies at Book Soup (https://www.booksoup.com/book/9781804291245).
"Red Team Blues": "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books http://redteamblues.com. Signed copies at Dark Delicacies (US): and Forbidden Planet (UK): https://forbiddenplanet.com/385004-red-team-blues-signed-edition-hardcover/.
"Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com
"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html
"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59?sk=f6cd10e54e20a07d4c6d0f3ac011af6b) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)
"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html
"Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.
- The Lost Cause: a post-Green New Deal eco-topian novel about truth and reconciliation with white nationalist militias, Tor Books, November 2023
The Bezzle: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about prison-tech and other grifts, Tor Books, February 2024
Picks and Shovels: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about the heroic era of the PC, Tor Books, February 2025
Unauthorized Bread: a graphic novel adapted from my novella about refugees, toasters and DRM, FirstSecond, 2025
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"When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla" -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla