Washington Post – Armed with footnotes, we can save democracy – “We are at a distinctive point in the relationship between information and democracy: As the volume of information dissemination has grown, so too have attempts by individuals and groups to weaponize disinformation for commercial and political purposes. This has contributed to fragmentation, political polarization, cynicism, and distrust in institutions and expertise, as a recent Pew Research Center report found. So what is the solution?
Outside of academics and lawyers, few people may think about footnotes once they leave school. Indeed, there is a hackneyed caricature about footnotes as pedantry, the purview of tweedy scholars blinking as we emerge from fluorescent-lit libraries into the sun — not the concern of regular folks. A recent essay in the Economist even laid some of Britain’s recent woes at the feet of historians who spend too much time “fiddling with footnotes.” But nothing could be further from the truth. More than ever, we need what this tool provides: accountability and transparency. “Fiddling with footnotes” is the kind of hygienic practice that our era of information pollution needs — and needs to be shared as widely as possible. Footnotes are for everyone…”