The winner of Oxford Dictionaries’ prestigious Word of the Year award in 2016 was “post-truth.” It’s a phrase you hear used to describe nearly everything today – the media, politics, advertising, big business. But what does it really mean? It defines a situation where the truth is less important than appeals to people’s emotions. In a post-truth world, fiction has more power than fact.

In the days after the United Kingdom’s 2016 Brexit vote, editor-in-chief of The Guardian, Katharine Viner, examined the role technology has played in creating the post-truth era. The ease of publishing and sharing on social media means stories today spread at previously unimaginable speeds. There is no time for the fact-checking “trusted news organizations” traditionally provided – a concerning trend when you consider that 62% of US adults get their news from Facebook, according to a 2016 report from the Pew Research Center.

To avoid falling into the post-truth trap, getAbstract follows strict editorial guidelines. Before each summary goes online, it goes through a five-step process:

  1. Only the best – To begin, our team of editors searches through publishers’ catalogues, talks to authors, studies the Wish List and scours the web for the latest, most innovative books, articles, videos and reports. For every one hundred titles we look at, roughly five will go on to become summaries; these are the best and brightest of their class.
  2. Get straight to the point – Once titles are selected, the writers take over. getAbstract has a dedicated team of over 100 writers, journalists and academics who expertly craft our summaries. Their mission is to take a book, article or report, and cut out all the fluff until only the most important and interesting information remains. Then they put it together in a fun, easy-to-read format that should never take you more than 10 minutes to read.
  3. Checking the facts – When a writer is finished with a summary, an editor carefully checks each fact, date, name and quote to ensure they’re true to the original text.
  4. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s – Next, the summary goes to one of our proofers. These grammar experts ensure all spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct so that you don’t lose any time fumbling over annoying little mistakes.
  5. One last read – Before going online, each summary undergoes one final, scrutinizing read from an editor. This is our chance to make sure every little detail is perfect, and that the summary is useful and enjoyable to read.

To better understand how the post-truth era emerged, and for inspiration on how you can stand out as a beacon of trust in a time of great uncertainty, getAbstract recommends the following summaries:



Heather Hodel is an editor for getAbstract. She has a wide range of interests and works on everything in the library from AI to Zola (Émile).

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