The Internet is made of facts, lies and propaganda

December 15, 2016 // By Steve Taranovich
Steve Taranovich searches for solid technical information on the Internet and finds that it is necessary for engineers to remain vigilant and critical of sources, just as they did in the days before online.

In the aftermath of the very unusual election we just had in the US, we have seen how very powerful the Internet can be in influencing people. Caveat: Not everything on the Internet is true. We all know that but there is sometimes an unrecognized tendency for people to self-validate their prejudices. See this NY Times article where the author says "We gorge on information that confirms our ideas, and we shun what does not."

My concern here is that many engineers may be using the Internet as their primary source of technical information, either for education, design work or other reasons.

Unlike technical information found in time-honored online and/or print electronics publications, information available on the Internet is not regulated for quality or accuracy. Engineers and technicians will have to somehow verify that all the information they gather is true and/or has been reviewed by parties they trust. Most engineers do not have the luxury of time to review an article online themselves for technical accuracy, no less for grammar or spelling.

Just about anyone can publish anything they wish on the Internet. It is often difficult to determine the author of an online source, and even if the author is listed, they may not always represent themselves honestly, or they may present opinions as fact. It is your responsibility to evaluate resources effectively.

My advice is go to a trusted source that has been reviewed by your peers, and/or seasoned and credible technical editors in online and print electronics magazines. The IEEE XPlore is another great area to get some excellent viable technical white papers. Attending IEEE-sponsored meetings and presentations in your region is another good place to get viable technical information.

Next: Who else can you trust?