How we search for information is becoming more and more personalized. The personal dashboards we create on our devices make access to information easy and convenient, but how many of us realize the personal responsibility we now have to choose wisely each day, each moment?
Yes, information literacy has become a critical personal skill. “Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.” We hear it all around us. The likes and follows grow like giant sea monsters in the ocean of information chaos. Sure, we all love Google- but do we understand the responsibility is on each of us to evaluate what has been specifically given to us through algorithms of data? Do we really care?
As learners and citizens, we are all in this together. Come on, Google, give me the best answers for everyone. Not the best answers based on who you think I am. Of course, there are other search engines, but we all use google as a verb.
For those concerned about the future of information literacy, consider including information professionals in your personal learning network. You will need them. Thanks to Sheila Webber for sharing this slideshow by Phil Bradley.
People are beginning to recognize the fact that the world of Internet Connectivity is not exactly the utopia we dreamed of in the 1990s. In fact, the dangers of personalization by “algorithm gatekeepers” is now causing some of us to be anxious about our filter bubbles. (See Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” in this TED talk.)
Eli Pariser is making a great point about personalization; however, I notice he calls the gatekeepers of the old information hierarchy “editors”. I believe a better term for the professionals who are trained in information access, storage and retrieval would be “librarians”. In fact, the checklist he pulls up looks like something I learned in library school. Imagine a world where people actually realized there are core values of librarianship that could benefit them. What a concept!
I am not blaming Mr. Pariser for ignoring librarians in the connection between relevant, nonbiased, high quality information and the lack thereof online. I merely remind us all that some people are specifically trained to acquire high quality, diverse, challenging, thought provoking resources and those people are called librarians. Unfortunately, the perception of sitting at a circulation desk with a stamp pad is stuck in the minds of many who just didn’t realize how a library is made in the first place. But, the Internet was not made by librarians and has no caretaker who is trained to provide the best.
Today- everyone can be a librarian, an author, a journalist, a newscaster, a musician, an artist, an actor…or whatever online. Content curation sites are sprouting up like weeds. And speaking of weeds, librarians are trained to “weed” the library with the goal of helping the “living organism [Ranganathan]” maintain a healthy circulatory system. There is no weeding of the Internet. It is more like a garbage dump than a garden.
Sites like Scoop-it, are so popular now, educators are providing content creation lessons for students and businesses are utilizing them.
The point is to help others navigate through the sea of chaos! So, we should think about what we are adding to a topic or how we are helping others weed out the nonsense and cultivate the best content. In other words, we really are all librarians now! But I still say, “the Internet needs a librarian”.