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Thursday, January 24, 2008

This is a Test...

Those who attended my workshop on digital data learned how to take an e-mail message and tell if it is for real or if it is a hoax. Here is a real e-mail that I received at my home last night:

Tax Notification Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
United States Department of the Treasury
After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $184.80. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline. To access the form for your tax refund, click here.

Internal Revenue Service
Document Reference: (92054568)

Is it for real? Is it a hoax? How do you know for sure? You've got 15 seconds to find the answer. Go!

Well, how did you do?

If you didn't attend the workshop and would like for me to let you in on the secret, you can go here to learn this simple technique.

A generation ago, we could place some trust in what we saw in print. Print information was limited to the newspapers and magazines we purchased, and all of the content went through some type of screening to insure accuracy. As long as we knew that the newspapers at the grocery store checkout were fake, we were OK. Even then, our English teachers taught lessons on propaganda and how to recognize it. That lesson was on page 237 of the textbook.

The story for kids today is different. Exercises in exposing the untrue aren't just in the textbook--they show up in your e-mail, and they show up on the Internet. And they don't wait for your teacher to first warn you about them. Web 2.0 allows anybody to publish anything, and it's up to our kids to be savvy enough to be able to separate fact from fiction. In part, they are looking to us to give them the tools to do it. Are we up to the challenge?



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