This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

The dying art of information literacy

Shawn Callahan is bummed that his masters-level students are using sources (Google and Wikipedia) without evaluating their reliability.  Our information diets are killing us:

I have just finished marking a bunch of assignments. Not surprising the topic was narrative techniques in knowledge management. The students are masters level and I have to say I was depressed by what I received. The majority of the students were relying on Google and wikipedia to support their claims and arguments. The only journal articles referred to where the ones I made available in the shared online space.

This is an issue that comes up both in academics and in general business circles.  I suspect information overload has a reverse problem along these lines: the lack of desire to seek out high-quality information gets washed out in the too-much-information river.

Why is this important?  Individually, I want to be sure I have the best sources and information to answer a given question or problem.  The reason I might use the first answer I find on Google is that it seems to be "good enough" to the fit of my problem.  I evaluate any answers I find online (or in books and journals) with what I already know of a given topic, and whether the given information seems to fit with my mental model of the problem at hand.  I even look for insights that counter my intuition, just in case I have it wrong to begin with.  I note that this happens for me very quickly and naturally as I troll through found materials.  I tend to do more research on a given topic when I know something big is on the line. 

Collectively, information literacy is important because we have to rely on one another to search and collect and evaluate sources to develop high-quality solutions in business.

So, is the art of information literacy dying?  It is certainly changing as the sources and quantity of information changes.

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