Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: January 2011
Run time: 1 hour 42 minutes

You can't always believe what you read. That old adage is even more appropriate in today's web-dominated world of communication. Printed material has often carried the weight of authority simply because professionals created it. But with the Web, it's different. Anyone can create a slick website or a compelling argument via email and find lots of impressionable viewers who will believe every word.

In this video, Howard Rheingold offers solid guidelines to help you determine whether the information you come across on the Web is legitimate or whether it's just plain crap. Rheingold is a respected author and journalist who’s been involved with the Web and Internet since the beginning. He'll show you how to detect urban legends, spam email, criminal hoaxes, and phishing exploits, and more.

  • Learn tips on critical thinking and how to decipher information on the Web
  • Use Web analytic techniques for finding authorship
  • Understand when it's important to mistrust a request and go directly to the source
  • Uncover social media pitfalls, including Facebook issues
  • Dive deeper to find the more information about websites
  • Learn how to use search safely and effectively

About the host:

Howard Rheingold is an internationally syndicated author of the weekly "Tomorrow" column, author of bestsellers such as Virtual Reality (Simon & Schuster) and The Virtual Community (MIT Press), and editor of the bestselling The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog. He's a participant-observer in the design of new technologies, and a pioneer, critic, and forecaster of technology's social, cultural, political and economic impact.

Rheingold was the founding Executive Editor of HotWired, the pioneering online publication launched on the World Wide Web by Wired magazine. He was also the founder of Electric Minds, named by Time Magazine one of the ten best websites of 1996. A lecturer at UC Berkeley and Stanford University, Rheingold is a non-resident Fellow at the Annenberg Center for Communication.

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O'Reilly MediaCrap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online
 
3.9

(based on 9 reviews)

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88%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (8)
  • Concise (5)
  • Helpful examples (4)
  • Accurate (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Novice (9)
    • Student (5)
    • Intermediate (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
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    Reviewed by 9 customers

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    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Great for Intended Audiences, not cynics

    By Waldo

    from Capital District, NY

    About Me Cynic, Developer, Geek, Maker, Sys Admin

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Concise
    • Easy to understand
    • Good production

    Cons

    • More coverage
    • Narrow Audience
    • Not comprehensive enough
    • Too basic

    Best Uses

    • Middle-aged net-newbies
    • Novice
    • Student

    Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

    On Crap Detection

    I found a video series titled "Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online" by Howard Rheingold (available from Oreilly Media), and was instantly intrigued. When the opportunity came up to see it free as part of the Blogger Review Program, I felt that it would be a good choice.

    The short version:

    If you are a cynic and/or have been on the net for any significant amount of time, this series probably isn't for you. If you have children, it's a good idea to watch this so you can frame how you want to talk to them. If you know older (non-web-savvy) people getting on the net, perhaps for the first time, buy this for them.

    The main points that I boiled this down to are:
    -Be aware of Bias
    -Look into the source
    -Wikipedia is a place to begin research, not end it.

    The Long Version:

    This video series by Howard Rheingold (UC Berkeley and Stanford University lecturer) addresses the basics of protecting yourself from misinformation and fraud while going about your daily online life. Broken up into 11 videos (including a short intro and conclusion video), this series is probably short enough for someone new to the material to take in all in one shot. Personally, being a cynic and long-time internet user, I found it to be slow and fairly basic. However, I am not his target audience.

    Mr. Rheingold addresses his target audience as pretty much everyone who is encountering the internet for the first time. That is tricky, however, because even my four-year-old son has used the internet. A few years ago, my In-laws decided to get off of WebTV, and I was to be the instrument of their transition. (No, I didn't have a choice.) Had this video existed at the time, I would have purchased it for them without hesitation. I had given them a brief list of warnings ("No Nigerian prince is going to ask you for help with a financial transaction" and "Don't click on links in emails that claim to be from your bank, even if it looks real"), but I think that the presentation of this material was better.

    Being a parent of youngin's, I think that they're going to grow up with a strong sense of cynicism. This video series may help inform you about topics to bring up, but anyone younger than middle-aged will not be able to sit through the video. The tone is conversational, and the pacing is fine, but Mr. Rheingold is just not a good fit for a younger audience.

    The production and presentation of the video gives me mixed feelings. The video looks great. But it looks to be done in Mr. Rheingold's home office, which I find I have mixed feelings about. It's certainly better than the blank light-beige conference-room wall common to most informational videos, but the posters and monitors in the background are distracting. Rheingold is joined by Mark Brokering of Safari Books Online, who asks leading questions on each topic. Rheingold's sound level is fine, but Brokering's is often a little too low. My final criticism on the presentation is that Rheingold references his laptop, especially when demonstrating a site. When he does this, it seems to distract him, and he forgets what he was saying.

    I think that this series covers very well the idea of "Being aware of Bias". In fact, I think that it is mentioned in every section. There is an excellent example early-on regarding Martin Luther King, and he covers ways to begin looking into the people presenting information to you.

    Later on, he touches on some sources to leverage to investigate urban legends, hoaxes, etc, which I think is especially helpful to the target audience.

    I especially appreciate that he addresses Moral Panics ("Protect the Children!"), and by pointing out that censorship is against the founding ideas behind the internet, and that censorship would destroy it.

    I think that two topics that really deserved treatment were neglected (or under-served). The first is Privacy Settings. I think that making people aware that there are different levels of visibility to the internet (especially when using social media sites/apps), is of crucial difference. To this day, I see faux-pas on Facebook where an uncomfortable topic is posted on someone's Facebook Wall instead of in a private message or chat. (Personally, I don't like Facebook having that information at all, but sometimes it can't be avoided.)

    The other topic, somewhat related, is Over-Sharing. My sister is 10 years younger than I, and when she first set up her Facebook account, her information was widely-viewable, and she'd posted her phone number, mailing address, and talked freely about her comings-and-goings. It took yelling at her a few times before she finally fixed some of the issues, but at least some of those were taken down.

    All in all, this series is a great resource for older Net-Newbies, and a decent starting-place for parents. But if you've been on the net for some time, it's probably not for you. All in all, I give it a 4/5 stars (attempting to account for my biases.)

    -Waldo

     
    3.0

    Basic Information But Still Useful

    By dpeach

    from Pensacola, FL

    About Me Educator

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Concise
    • Easy to understand

    Cons

    • Too basic

    Best Uses

    • Novice

    Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

    This video series helps the viewer determine what is junk and what is valid information on the web. The 12 different segments let you jump to just the information you are looking for, or you can watch them all at once. It is not just a talking head video. The program is set up in an interview format.

    I love the information given, though I think it is a little basic. This is the kind of information that is helpful for my 70 year old parents. The videos seem to be targeted at parents with children. However, I think kids who have parents on the Internet probably know most of this information. If you are concerned about your kids getting duped into believing bad information online, then this would be a good video series for you.

    One section of the video includes tips on how to use search engines. It does not go into detailed search strings you can use to refine your search, rather it gives tips on how to use search to find out if the information you are being told is legitimate. There is also a section on tracking down the truth on what you think might be an urban legend. I wished more people would learn that instead of posting to Facebook and their entire email list a bunch of false information.

    Most of the sections are 10 minutes or less. It is something that can easily be watched in chunks of time.

    I don't like the title of the videos, though I understand it is probably not offensive to most people. I always think a publishing company limits their ability to sell books (and videos) when they use a questionable word in the title or an inappropriate picture.

    In general I liked the information though it did seem to be basic and targeted the wrong direction. This is for my parents, not my children.

     
    4.0

    Covers the basics & is easy to watch

    By The Digital Doorman

    from San Diego CA

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Easy to understand
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Novice

      Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

      This video series covers the basics of how you judge the validity of information on the internet as well as many other topics. The video is presented in the format of an informal interview and is done well to keep the videos interesting.

      The information covered is relatively basic which makes sense given the "101″ in the title. I would say it is aimed at the general population that doesn't question the internet content. It does a good job covering the information so everyone will understand it and it will reassure those that already know the information to always question when giving person information or reading something that is presented as fact. There is a small set of information sprinkled around in the videos that I would say goes beyond the basics. I plan to show some of these videos to my kids but there were a few topics that I will skip or wait until high school age to cover with them.

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      a good place to start

      By Ziv Kitaro

      from Israel

      About Me Designer, Educator, Maker

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Concise
      • Easy to understand

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate
        • Novice

        Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

        We are at a point where not only do we have hundred of different ways to consume information, we also have to deal with way too many sources that are less than credible. The problem is that it becomes real hard to sort them out. O'reilly's video title "Crap Detection 101", by author and journalist Howard Rhelngold, teaches the elements of critical thinking, and gives the viewers a solid workflow that will help them judge whether the material they are reading is to be trusted, or not.

        As someone who works with educators, and also gets to talk to parents on somewhat daily basis, I was intrigued by the title. As promised it's a "101" course in the Internet. The audience that will benefit from it are parents, teachers, elderly people - people who are using the web but are not familiar with issues like phishing, wikipedia, aggregation of information, news sources etc. Rhelngold is an interesting conversationist, and that's how the videos are constructed - short conversations about a specific topic.

        Experienced users wont find anything of value here, except for some Web sites for fact checking that could be of use. The videos cover topics like: searching and sifting through the information, dealing with hoaxes, phishing scams, talking to kids about the Internet, critical thinking, how to gather medical information and what to do with it (take it to the doctor), and a few more bits. There are 12 videos, running between 5-15 minutes.
        The good thing about this title is, that Rhelngold technique are not about the tools (he give addresses for Web sites that are important) but all about the way we should think and work with information. This will makes the title relevant in the future as well, no matter what new tools show up on the scene.

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Looking for reliable info online

        By christine

        from Canada

        About Me Educator

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Novice
          • Student

          Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

          Howard Rheingold, the author of Smart Mobs, looks at several different media literacy issues: determining authority, avoiding scams and getting good information. This video is an expansion of an article that he wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle (and which is still available online). As he is interviewed, Rheingold uses examples and tells brief stories to illustrate his point. He is also very kind: he knows these topics are difficult and that when people are sucked in, they feel stupid as well as vulnerable.

          I would recommend this resource to anyone who is timid about using some of the services on the Internet that make us more efficient, but who is worried, either because of a past mistake or because of the media, that they will be conned. His tips could also be applied to looking critically about corporate information and job scams. This resource may also help Internet risk-takers, though Rheingold's low key manner may not be enough to grab their attention.

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          3.0

          Great info, but difficult to recommend

          By Richard Hamilton

          from Cayman Islands

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Great information
          • Helpful examples
          • Useful

          Cons

          • Cost
          • Format
          • Too long

          Best Uses

          • Novice

          Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

          The Video "Crap_Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online" is targeted at parents, educators and high schools students to provide them with the tools to identify the difference between accurate and inaccurate information online. While I think it achieves its stated purpose, the question and answer format ("Q&A") between Mr. Rheingold and Mark Brokering of Safari Books Online makes watching the video difficult at times, especially for high school students.

          Saturday afternoon my wife, 16 year-old step-daughter and myself gathered around the monitor in the living room to watch the video. The video starts out very strong and we could all relate as Mr. Rheingold explains the discussion he held with his 12 year-old daughter and the steps she should take in questioning information online. Unfortunately, the format then changed to a Q&A and it felt like we were sitting in a classroom lecture.

          It was very interesting to hear the steps that one could take to protect themselves against a number of online issues, including phishing, hoaxes, spam, and incorrect or misleading online information. The video also explored online healthcare information, children on the web, teaching and learning about critical thinking and using Wikipedia. However, in our opinion the video was too long and at times we lost interest. While Mr. Rheingold showed some actual examples of websites, we suggest that it would have been beneficial if there were more examples and/or information to look at while Mr. Rheingold talked. My step-daughter said that she would have found the video more interesting if there were interviews with "young" people and included information about Facebook (which surprisingly seemed to be missing in the video).

          While there is a lot of great information and tools to help one distinguish good and bad information online, the way it was presented and the cost of the video makes it difficult for me to recommend the video.

          Disclosure: A copy of this video was provided to me as part of the O'Reilly's Blogger Review Program on the understanding that I would review it. It is a great program that I highly recommend.

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Proceed the detective way

          By Lily

          from Piraeus, Greece

          About Me Developer

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Expert
            • Intermediate
            • Novice
            • Student

            Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

            What I am going to review is Howard Rheingold's video, about distinguishing the good from the bad information Online.
            What the video is about? It is about the internet and the information we get through internet. Howard Rheingold, in his one and a half hour video (approximately), discusses with Mark Brokering of Safari Books Online, about several issues concerning internet, about information, and as the title says, how to distinguish good and bad Information.
            The video has 12 segments, each segment being a topic that we must be careful when we approach it online, and it is important to know the difference between good and bad, between right and wrong. He talks about issues like legitimate information, like accurate information, he talks about healthcare online, how to search online and about the role of Wikipedia. He also talks about phishing, criminal hoaxing, spam email and other "evil" things that we must have in mind when we get online.
            I have to say that it is a quite interesting video; Rheingold can catch your attention and hold you there. You watch the one topic after the other without being bored or tired. His speech is clear and his thinking is logical and simple. Also the quality of the recording is very good. Everybody can benefit from watching the video, whether a parent or a senior, a teacher or a college student. As a parent or a teacher, there is a special unit about children on the web.
            Well, I said it is quite an interesting video, in the way the speaker approaches and presents his subject. Rheingold himself has a great personality and that is reflected in the way he speaks. But does he reveal any secret techniques to catch the bad guy on the internet? Is there any magical formula to tell the good from evil? No, except from a few sites that may be helpful, like "Who Is" that gives information about URLs and domain names, and "Health on the Net", there is no secret or a magical formula. Rheingold tells something that it is quite obvious, but so much forgotten by many of us. That someone must use their brain when they get online. "The great thing about internet is that everybody can publish. The danger of the internet is that everybody can publish". So learn to think critically and ask questions. Ask yourself, "Who is telling me that?" Set an "internal credibility meter" and let it get up and down depending on what you find answering "who is". If there is not an author in what it is written, the credibility meter must go down. "Think like a detective". And in a detective's mind everybody is a suspect, unless otherwise proven.
            But finally, does it worth for someone to have this DVD? Yes, I believe so. Some things may be "common sense", but we all need to hear someone telling us those things, again and again.

            (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Finding information value made easy

            By Michal Konrad Owsiak

            from michal.owsiak[@]

            About Me Developer

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Accurate
            • Concise
            • Easy to understand
            • Helpful examples

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Intermediate
              • Novice
              • Student

              Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

              I really, really, enjoyed this Video. But before I will tell about my feelings let me tell you about what the Video is all about. Internet is one of the major sources of the information today – you can't claim it is not. And the Internet is a big place with lots of bad guys hanging behind one or another web link. How to tell, who's good and who's bad? How to determine whether information is right or wrong? It's not easy, however, Howard Rheingold tries to address as many issues related to this topic as possible during ~1.5h discussion with Mark Brokering. He talks about how should we approach information we find in the Net. That our behavior in the Web should be always regarded as critical consumption.Howard covers various topics related to the Web browsing, he tells us how should we perform searching, how should we determine authority of the speaker or writer, how should we comply with barely legal content, how should we protect children. What I like in his way of thinking is the way he approaches the subject. He doesn't tell you to disconnect from all the information sources, and treat the Internet as source of evil. Yes, sure, you can find bad stuff there, but Howard, instead of escaping it, tries to discover and debunk false ideas, disclose who criminals wanting to teal your data via e-mail are.I like the way he presents his knowledge. He doesn't try to pretend that he knows everything, and knows the answers for all the questions that may rise. Instead, he tries to find a sensible way of showing others how to deal with Internet. He tell parents and teachers how to discuss this topic with children – this is quite important nowadays. What I really enjoyed was that Howard sounds very reasonable and you can tell he has experience in subject – he is dealing with all this stuff since '80s.I definitely recommend this Video material. I know that price is high. I know that regular folks will calculate and probably say: "well I'd better go to the movies instead". But, on the other hand, it's worth to get knowledge about how to find that something is cr...p because we spend more and more time on the Internet.

              (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Internet Primer for Parents & Teachers

              By Leo M.

              from Lemoore, CA

              About Me Developer, Sys Admin

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Accurate
              • Concise
              • Easy to understand

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Novice
                • Student

                Comments about O'Reilly Media Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Online:

                This Master Class training video is the updated successor to a blog entry that I read about a year ago, located here:[...]What Howard Rheingold has done is expand and update what has been written there, and has geared it more towards non-techie parents, teachers... and tech savvy teens. Each segment is more or less 10 minutes each, and contains resources that will help 'the rest of us' vet information we find on the 'net.I recommend looking at the 4 minute intro video. It is well worth your time. Parents & teachers, I *do* recommend that you see the entire class in its entirety first, as Howard does delve into some thorny issues (racism, kids on the net, etc)-- and while I agree with how it's presented your mileage may vary.The video segments can be viewed on O'Reilly's site, but--major win for users-- they can also be downloaded, as is always the case, in DRM free *.mp4 format that played on my iPad with no modification.Personally I'm really grateful to O'Reilly for having downloads that can be played offline, as I and many folks live in rural areas where there is no hot-n-cold running broadband. Depending on how this class sells, and I hope it does-- maybe O'Reilly should consider releasing it on DVD.So what you're asking now is, is this video worth it? I can recommend this video with a resounding YES. This is an excellent primer on what to expect when you find (dubious) information on the 'net.To my geek friends, if you're having trouble training your kids, parents or other non-geek colleagues I think this Master Class will furnish you with another authoritative voice by which you can help others. Parking them in front of a screen with this video is probably one of the best things you can do for all concerned.To those of you 'at a loss about all this Internet stuff' this is probably the best 1 hour and 42 minutes you can spend that will lay a foundation to get you up to speed with a technology and its social issues that your kids already know.As a final aside I spoke with one of my mentors who came from Apple, and then subsequently trained me in policy management back in "the old days" at Netcom in the 1990s.Some of the concepts I picked up about vetting info & the internet came from, indirectly, surprise-surprise, Howard Rheingold.

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