[SIGCIS-Members] Fact Checking Before Internet

Jean Graham jean.graham at stonybrook.edu
Sun Dec 2 12:31:26 PST 2018


There's also the "morgue," in newspaper offices, of previously published
articles. Robert Darnton touches on this, I think, in some of his articles
on the institutions and sociology of journalism.

On Sun, Dec 2, 2018 at 3:11 PM Brian Berg <brianberg at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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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