Session 5 of the ISKO UK 2017 conference was titled False Narratives: developing a KO community response to post-truth issues. It comprised three presentations and a panel discussion. Following are summaries of all talks with links to slide decks and audio recordings provided by ISKO UK.

The summaries and audio recordings are created and curated by ISKO UK and available from the side-bar links at

Scoping out post-truth issues and how might KO help

David Clarke – CEO Synaptica

In 2016, two leading Western democracies, the UK and the US, held a referendum and an election that attracted criticism concerning the quality of information available to the voting public. The Internet and social media in particular were key battlegrounds during the 2016 elections. Internet search engines and social media technology companies have radically transformed how people search for information and how information producers feed content to their consumers. Among the unintended consequences of some of these technologies are an increase in political and social polarisation, as well as in the dissemination of false information. These phenomena have been so prominent that the Oxford Dictionary chose ‘post-truth’ as word of the year for 2016. Humanity cannot afford to accept post-truth as the new norm. Post-truth misinformation/disinformation threaten to undermine democratic processes, promote extremism, and destabilise society. These problems must be tackled, and both technological and social solutions are needed. How can the Knowledge Organization community address the challenge?


Audio Recording:

Why ‘Facts Matter’ – evidence, trust and literacy in a post-truth world

Nick Poole – CEO CILIP

The expression ‘post-truth’ has been with us for a decade or more. The issue it describes – that there is no such thing as an objective ‘truth’ – has its roots in the centuries-old epistemological problem of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’.

The concept has gained fresh currency in light of the rise of populist political movements between 2015 and 2016. It presents us as information professionals with a central challenge – what should be our ethical response to the idea that there is no ‘truth’ and that data can be applied selectively to legitimise any political assertion?

In her recent address to the American Libraries Association, Hillary Clinton said, “As librarians, you have to be on the frontlines of one of the most important fights we’ve ever faced in the history of our country. The fight to defend truth and reason and evidence and facts.” In this session, CILIP CEO Nick Poole explored the consequences of undermining public trust in evidence, and the need for information professionals to re-state and defend the role of evidence, trust and literacy in information sources. You can read the full text on his blog dedicated to matters of post-truth.


Full Text Transcript

Audio Recording:


False News – a journalist’s perspective

Dr. Glenda Cooper – Lecturer in journalism at City, University of London

‘Fake news’ is not a new concept; it dates back as far as storytelling itself – even Rameses the Great was guilty of it in 1200BC. But the speed and distribution by which false information can be spread has accelerated thanks to lowered cost of publication and distribution via the internet, and the difficulty of regulation. This presentation looks at the journalists’ perspective – and debates the ideas of journalists as purveyors of, and defenders against fake news. It questions whether the debate around fake news could actually prove beneficial for journalists, and how they can work to ensure that audiences become aware which information they can trust, including such innovations such as First Draft, Full Fact and Dminr.


Audio Recording:


Panel Discussion

Stella Dextre Clarke (Moderating) – Information Management Consultant, Chair ISKO UK and Vice-president, ISKO plus David Clarke – CEO Synaptica, Nick Poole – CEO CILIP and Dr. Glenda Cooper – Lecturer in journalism at City, University of London.

Audio Recording: