Blog Tip Lesson Learned: Email Sources Always need Verified


Well, I didn’t check my sources and I am pretty embarrassed by that. On my last post called From 1954 Popular Mechanics – Scientists Illustrate What a Home Computer Will Look Like I used a picture that I got from an email and I took it for face value without verifying the source.

Sara left me a comment and a link to Snope’s Hoaxes, Viruses and Urban Legends page about this picture and caption. It turns out that this is not from 1954 Popular Mechanics, nor is it what the RAND scientists envision the home computer to look like in the year 2004. Here is what Snope’s has to say about the photo:

“Although the photograph displayed could represent what some people in the early 1950s contemplated a “home computer” might look like (based on the technology of the day), it isn’t, as the accompanying text claims, a RAND Corporation illustration from 1954 of a prototype “home computer.” The picture is actually an entry submitted to a Fark.com image modification competition, taken from an original photo of a submarine maneuvering room console found on U.S. Navy web site, converted to grayscale, and modified to replace a modern display panel and TV screen with pictures of a decades-old teletype/printer and television (as well as to add the gray-suited man to the left-hand side of the photo)”

The original color picture was taken in 2000 at the Smithsonian Institution exhibit “Fast Attacks and Boomers: Submarines in the Cold War” and depicts: full-scale display of a typical nuclear-powered submarine’s maneuvering room in which the ship’s engineers control the power plant and electrical and steam system.

I always, always check out every email about viruses and the like before sending them on. But I forgot to check this one before posting it. I generally get all my information from verified sources so I didn’t think to check this out. And I forgot that posting something is different than just forwarding on an email.

Well, live and learn! This is a very good lesson for me and I am glad I learned it (although I wish it was not in such a public manner).

Blogging is very much like writing a newspaper column and requires the same verification of sources and attention to detail. It isn’t like email where you can just forward something interesting.

This is definitely a lesson learned for me and not just that all sources need verified, but that blogging is reporting and a reporter needs to be sure they have their facts straight and need to be highly professional at all times in their approach, at least those bloggers who are trying to provide information for other people and not just using it as a diary or such.

So while this was learning the hard way, I hope it helps you avoid this problem for yourself and you can bet I will be more careful about this, and especially will verify email sources in the future.

~Susan Mellott

Becky Carleton, a librarian at the Johnson County Library in Kansas challenged me to name ten pieces

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