Friday, November 07, 2003

For T182 students familiar with the Diebold electronic voting machine controversy, Ernest Miller engages in a timely discussion of bias in online sources, just as we've started looking at the issue in the course.

Someone is criticising Mary Hodder at bIPlog at the University of Berkeley, California, for her short note about the EFF and Stanford suing Diebold.

Miller, JD Lasica of the Online Journalism Review and Mary Hodder herself mount a robust defense of the posting.

Which of the following tactics do you think the complainant engages in -

appealing to emotion and prejudice;

extrapolating opposition argument to the absurd and then refuting the absurd;

using sarcasm, innuendo, denigration and other forms of humour to belittle opponents;

grouping all opponents under one label, a category easy to dismiss;

using jargon to confuse;

non sequitur - drawing an illogical conclusion from sound data.

(There are, of course many more but let's stick with these for the moment).

He does make a couple of interesting points:

1. Although the case was fast-tracked the judge refused to issue an injunction preventing Diebold from continuing to send out their cease and desist letters until the hearing.

2. A question - do rules of "fairness and accuracy" apply in the "blogosphere" - are blogs more or less reliable sources than traditional media?

Hodder, Lasica and Miller all have comments on the latter.

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