[SIGCIS-Members] Fact Checking Before Internet

Brian Berg brianberg at gmail.com
Sun Dec 2 12:11:06 PST 2018


Marc Weber,

Thanks for the posting, with inclusion of DIALOG.  As a follow-up to my
post re: DIALOG, the full video of a panel discussion that I led (which
included Roger Summit, the originator of the system and the person I worked
with on the Milestone) is available here: *Dialog: The Beginning of Online
Search*
<https://californiaconsultants.org/event/dialog-the-beginning-of-online-search/>.
That site also includes the slide set, which embeds some old videos.

Brian Berg

On Sun, Dec 2, 2018 at 11:53 AM Marc Weber <mweber at computerhistory.org>
wrote:

> Dear Jim and Bill,
> I would divide computerized fact checking into two main kinds – 1)
> retrieving information from existing written sources, and 2) asking live
> experts. The former favors systems designed specifically for information
> retrieval, the latter favors online discussion groups around specific
> topics. Below are some thoughts on resources for each.
>
> 1) Formal information retrieval:
> As I’m sure you know DIALOG (1966), LexisNexis (LEXIS 1970) and other
> commercial online search services were used by professionals including
> journalists until they were absorbed into the Web and Internet (both still
> exist as Web sites). I did an oral history a couple of years ago with
> Charlie Bourne, who was a DIALOG VP and a leading expert on information
> retrieval and early online search. He gave us his extension collection of
> material on computerized information retrieval in general dating back to
> the ‘50s, which might be a good starting point. Also happy to introduce you
> to him.
> I can also introduce you to Roger Summit, co-founder of DIALOG. He was
> recorded on a panel in the last year or so at the Silicon Valley IEEE, and
> I’m sure Brian Berg can point you to the footage.
> For LexisNexis history author Will Bagley has done extensive research and
> interviewing and is connected with a number of the principals, can
> introduce you.
> Ann Hardy who wrote the OS for Tymshare/Tymnet in the late 1960s and was
> later a VP there might also have ideas. While they provided the platform
> for information services rather than offering the information themselves
> (Tymnet was far bigger than the ARPAnet in the ‘70s) she has an overview of
> what was around then. We did an oral history with her a while back.
> In France, people used Minitel for a variety of research tasks from the
> early ‘80s well into the Web era; we did a Minitel history project and can
> connect you to people and resources here and in France. Julien Mailland and
> Kevin Driscoll’s book is an excellent overview. Michel Landaret, who Julien
> and I did an oral history with a couple of years ago, is a major pioneer of
> online journalism on Minitel and would be a good source.
> Computerized card catalogs grew in the 1970s and were a kind of halfway
> point between online and paper retrieval; can introduce you to pioneers for
> that if of interest.
> Wire services like Reuters date to the 1850s. I’m not sure if and when
> their archives became searchable, either on paper in the telegraph era or
> at some point online. John Liffen, curator emeritus of telegraphy at the
> Science Museum, may have info on the earlier part of the story.
>
> 2) Asking experts:
> There are a LOT of examples – topical discussion groups on various
> timesharing systems, on PLATO Notes, ARPAnet email, Online Services from
> the Source to CompuServe to AOL to the Well, BBSs, Minitel and other
> videotex systems, and more I’m not thinking of. Basically anywhere you had
> people connecting around a particular topic. We have archives related to
> several of those above, and can point you to experts or principals for most.
>
> Best, Marc
>
> Marc Weber<http://www.computerhistory.org/staff/Marc,Weber/>  |
> marc at webhistory.org<mailto:marc at webhistory.org>  |   +1 415 282 6868
> Internet History Program Curatorial Director, Computer History Museum
> 1401 N Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View CA 94043
> computerhistory.org/nethistory<http://computerhistory.org/nethistory>
> Co-founder, Web History Center and Project, webhistory.org<
> http://webhistory.org>
>
> On Dec 1, 2018, at 06:42, James Cortada <jcortada at umn.edu<mailto:
> jcortada at umn.edu>> wrote:
>
> Bill Aspray and I are exploring how fact checking was done between the
> early 1950s and the mid-1990s using computers and networks, that is to say,
> before the wide use of the Internet, snopes, Wiki etc. If you are aware of
> specific examples, or documentation, about this use of computing, please
> let us know. We are interested in all manner of fact checking, not limiting
> it to press challenges of statements by politicians, hoaxes, and faulty
> scientific research.  Thanks for your help.
>
> --
> James W. Cortada
> Senior Research Fellow
> Charles Babbage Institute
> University of Minnesota
> jcortada at umn.edu<mailto:jcortada at umn.edu>
> 608-274-6382
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