How young is the oldest building in your state?

Map shows oldest buildings for each U.S. state – but also hints at what's missing.

Credit: Malcolm Tunnell, reproduced with kind permission
  • How old is the oldest building in your state? This map will tell you.
  • While the East Coast has some pretty ancient stuff, the oldest buildings elsewhere are many centuries older.
  • The Pueblo dwellings in the Four Corners states go back to 750 CE.
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Opinion journalism keeps the lights on. But at what cost?

Opinion is more compelling than fact. That's tearing society apart.

  • Basic facts are up for debate, especially in the realm of science and politics. So which facts can you trust? Start by looking at trusted sources like Wikipedia, Snopes, and factcheck.org.
  • "If people with money don't start supporting fact-checking systems then fact-checking systems will become increasingly rarer," says Dreger.
  • Digital audiences are in the habit of sharing and reposting op-eds that agree with their existing opinions, rather than seeking out factual reporting. Opinion journalism makes money. Factual reporting makes less. That's a problem.
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This is how we might explore the internet after Google

Can algorithms use collective knowledge to make us all internet explorers?

Photo credit: Amanda Tipton via Flickr
  • Google has come under scrutiny lately for its dominance over the flow of information on the internet.
  • TagTheWeb is researching a method to allow the "wisdom of the crowd" to categorize the internet more effectively.
  • With or without Google, the internet looks to change significantly in the future, in ways we may not be ready for.
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A short history of knowledge, from feudalism to the Internet

Crowdsourcing as an idea isn't anything new, says historian and sex researcher Alice Dreger. She tells us about the history of public gathering of information from the medieval era to today.

Crowdsourcing as an idea isn't anything new, says historian and sex researcher Alice Dreger. She tells us about the history of public gathering of information from the medieval era to today. The enlightenment period was a big boon to the arts and sciences, but also an even bigger help to how knowledge is organized and distributed. Is Wikipedia, with its checks and balances and appeal to honesty, more like the founding fathers' idea of America than the overtly libertarian wild west that the rest of the internet has turned into? It might seem like a leap, but Alice's position here is full of interesting suggestions like that. Alice's new book is Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar's Search for Justice.

Fact vs. Fiction: How Facts Are Made, and Who Decides What's True

What information can we trust? Truth isn't black and white, so here are three requirements every fact should meet.

The chances are good that you've used Wikipedia to define or discover something in the last week, if not 24 hours. It's currently the 5th most-visited website in the world. The English-language Wikipedia averages 800 new articles per day — but 1,000 articles are deleted per day, the site's own statistics page reports. That fluctuation is probably partly the result of mischievous users, but it is also an important demonstration of Wikipedia's quest for knowledge in motion. "As the world's consensus changes about what is reliable, verifiable information, the information for us will change too," says Katherine Maher, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. Maher is careful to delineate between truth and knowledge. Wikipedia isn't a jury for truth, it's a repository for information that must be three things: neutral, verifiable, and determined with consensus. So how do we know what information to trust, in an age that is flooded with access, data, and breaking news? Through explaining how Wikipedia editors work and the painstaking detail and debate that goes into building an article, Maher offers a guide to separating fiction from fact, which can be applied more broadly to help us assess the quality of information in other forums.

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