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New Fast Company: New Rules for the Photoshop Era

My new Fast Company essay, "Five New Rules for the Photoshop Era," takes on the participatory decepticon, and discovers that it was apparently born in Kenya.

If you're annoyed by the "birther" churn, get used it--this kind of political hack is here to stay. It's easy and effective. Cheap digital tools make the work of faking official documents, "candid" images, and behind-the-scenes videos readily possible, even for rough amateurs.

Moreover, the hacks don't have to convince skeptics--they only need to strengthen believers. Faked materials just need to be convincing enough to cause doubt in the minds of people already inclined to believe a lie. For people trying to undermine political opponents, uncertainty is both easy and useful. Imagine if the hoax Obama birth certificate had been produced in October of 2008, instead of August of 2009: it's all too likely that the chaos surrounding the document could have cut his percentage in closely-contested states.

By the way, you, too, can make your own Totally Official and Not At All Hoaxed Kenyan Birth Certificate!


(I AM NOT a "Birther".)
The irony of this website is that it shows just how meaningless an image of a document can be. All the public has ever seen of Obama's Hawaii birth certificate is a JPEG image of it. Food for thought.

The difference between the Hawaiian certificate and the Kenyan one is that only the Hawaiian certificate has reputable people willing to stand behind it. That is the measure of its authenticity.

Really, those have always been the rules: Always get it from a source you can trust, even if you decline to name it in the article, and at least attempt to verify it from multiple sources before the deadline. The ease of making fakes changes nothing for the reputable press. Which, I suppose, is the entry’s point.

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