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16. 06
2013

Authority and the internet

Written by: gcw - Posted in: Uncategorized -

You can’t use Wikipedia as a source.

That’s what I tell my students over and over again. And if they ever ask why I always repeat the academic mantra “because there is no author, therefor no authority.” And yet, when you really want to answer questions with a google search you often find that people slap their names on some very dubious articles.

For example, I need some routers that support DD-WRT for the Wireless Communications class I teach. DD-WRT is basically an operating system for your wireless router that will open up all the expensive, fancy features but it won’t run on every router (as I found out during my labs last semester). So being both technically savvy and lazy I simply googled “best dd-wrt router”.

Best DD-WRT Router

Of the top 5 responses, 3 are from nice respectable web sites and have clear authorship and 2 are forum discussions (no identifiable authors). And yet those 3 are absolutely useless because they contain bloggers linking to other bloggers and regurgitating what someone else has already said about “best DD-WRT routers.” None of them took the time to actually sit down with each of them and test them out for functionality and signal strength. The forums don’t have complete information because each each poster only has experience with their brand, but at least it’s real information.

My point is two-fold:

  • Firstly we should be spending as much time helping students discern useful from useless internet sources in the practical realm as we do in the academic realm but we’re not. We would have them repeat the information from those 3 sources as if they had weight.
  • Secondly I should get a variety of routers that support DD-WRT and have my students compare them.

 

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