While listening this morning to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attempt to convince a disbelieving reporter of the Today Show that he is an innocent bystander to the proposed changes to national wage conditions, my husband turned to me and said, “If that was Trump, he’d answer the question.”
It made me think. Although I choose to focus on my research rather than the heated political circus, I am of course aware of the furore caused by Donald Trump’s candidacy and election. And for me, Trump’s current catchphrase of “fake news” is quite relevant to our times.
I’ve been talking about the need for credibility in images for years, knowing that few people were listening, but also knowing that one day they would. Now it suddenly occurs to me that the future I predicted – that people would eventually come to care about truth in images and the information they contain – is arriving even as we speak. It’s just arriving as a much bigger and broader tsunami of concern than I anticipated.
I was thinking too small when I thought of image credibility alone; the whole world is crying out for truth, the whole truth. The problem is that the rightful sources of this truth – our leaders, the media, and the vast sea of organisations who should be keeping us informed – do not always perform this function effectively. There are so many agendas and motives and logistical problems involved in the circulation of information that we are all being misinformed and underinformed on a daily basis.
I am not presenting President Trump as the new dawn of truth, but unlike Prime Minister Turnbull’s incomprehensible wall of words that cause us to walk away shaking our heads, Trump’s plain-speaking and definitive statements are causing people to question the substance of what they are being told in unprecedented numbers. And that can only be a good thing.
A crisis of truth and its anodyne
Perhaps we are not, as many people believe, in a crisis of Trump, but in a crisis of truth – we are awakening to the fact that truth is beset on all sides and we are experiencing the effects of not really knowing what we can believe.
Fortunately, we live in an exciting time in which the traditional pillars of information and misinformation can be restructured radically to provide a better, more solid foundation for truth.
We have robust ways to store as much data as we need. We have the ability to turn that data into information we can all circulate through the extraordinary connectivity we all share. Hopefully over time we can convert our commonly understood information into knowledge, and aspire to the best outcome of all: wisdom.
I am excited about the future of information in this, the information age. In the meantime, I will keep chipping away at my little corner of truth: researching and championing the notion of truth and credibility in images.