Good, reliable information is necessary for people at all levels of society to make informed decisions. This includes decisions on how to best ensure their own health and that of their families; how to best use the resources available to them; how to contribute to decision-making in their communities; and many other day-to-day decisions, big and small.
But ‘information is power’ and the manipulation of information – the withholding of information or the dissemination of false or biased information – has been used over the ages as a means of achieving political, economic or military advantage.
In today’s world, especially since the arrival of ‘social media’, the number of information sources, and the quantities of information circulating, have increased enormously and it is difficult for many of us to judge the reliability of much of the information that is available and the motives of those who publish and disseminate it. This has been highlighted by, for example, disputes over the ‘facts’ relating to climate change, the pros and cons of pesticides, and which foods are not good for us.
And most of the popular Internet search engines feed us information (and advertisements) that their algorithms calculate will be of particular interest to us – i.e. information that will reinforce our biases and make it less likely that we will see the different ideas and opinions that may exist [for a fascinating and frightening example, listen to the series of podcasts of the New York Times, The Rabbit Hole].
- What kinds of information do people in your community/locality/country need to make informed decisions about their own lives and to participate in decision-making within their communities?
- How do you judge the reliability of the information you receive on topics that are important to you?
- What are the key information and knowledge sharing initiatives related to sustainability and sustainable development in your community/locality/country ?
- What is the role of information and knowledge management and sharing for achieving progress towards SDGs and the general well-being of people and our planet?