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Social Software: Evaluating Sources of Information

Presentation on the use of social software--such as blogs, wikis, and social networks--as research tools. Critically evaluating these resources as well as ways to use them as both authoritative sources and as paths to acquiring additional knowledge are co

Rebecca Fitzsimmons

on 30 April 2011

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Transcript of Social Software: Evaluating Sources of Information

Social Software Evaluating Sources of Information Can I use social networking sources for research? Social Networking Twitter Blogs Social Bookmarks YouTube Facebook Wikis "reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or what to do."

- Robert Ennis, 1989 "Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends."

- Edward Glaser, 1941 Critical thinking is... "mode of thinking--about any subject, content, or problem--in which the thinker improves the quality of his or thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them."

- Paul, Fisher,
and Nosich,
1993 What do these definitions have in common?
Active, skillful reflection, questioning, and evaluation

Particular critical thinking skills we apply to web resources:
Clarifying and interpreting ideas
Analyzing and judging the credibility of claims, ideas, and information sources
Making decisions based on that analysis and evaluation But... Remember, the question list is only a guide.
Some information will simply not be found in each online environment; this does not automatically mean the information is not authoritative.
Take notes on the source of the information and the reasons you have identified it as valid or credible; you may need to prove this later There are many wikis available on the web
Some are easy to identify as excellent sources, especially institutional wikis
Look for at least one author or moderator
Look for clean and error free content and design
See if there are standards posted for editing content; if not, check that there is at least a history that can be reviewed for each page
Keep in mind that art is a rapidly evolving field, so wikis may change often to represent new research or artist activities Wikis Beyond Wikipedia Wikipedia Entry

New Media Art https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/MarkTribe/New+Media+Art

Created by a professor of visual culture at Brown University & has excellent entries on new media artists Blogs Blogs come in all types—recreational, agenda driven, news, etc.
Users are amateurs and professionals
Institutions often host blogs for employees to create content
Several online magazines are published as blogs, with links to content
Sites like Technorati offer a way to search for relevant blog content Many news organizations and academic or cultural institutions post frequent, if not daily, blogs

The lines can easily blur between amateur commentators and professionals

Try to look for blogs sponsored by reputable organizations

Set your Twitter and Facebook accounts to work sending updates from organizations like TED, Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian

When postings indicate links to quality blogs check them out and bookmark or set up RSS feeds to the ones that seem authoritative and useful

Evaluate every blog, even if it is from a cultural powerhouse—some blogs are more conversational and recreational than others, so look for blogs that contain mostly informational materials

For blogs with multiple contributors, try to evaluate the credentials of each poster Find blogs via Facebook Video showing a news feed
and links to sources for blogs Critical Evaluation A few considerations
Suitability - scope of the work; does it fully address your information need? Is it too complicated? Too general? Do you need a source that is considered scholarly or is a popular article better?

Authority - Can you identify the authors? What qualifications do they posses? Do you need an objective report or are you looking for an editorial work?

Objectivity - How about the source of the information? Does it come from a magazine or website that is published by an advocacy organization? If so, is this acceptable? What kind of criteria do they apply to the selection of materials?

PAY ATTENTION! Some information is satirical, presenting a parody of events or issues. Make sure that factual information you cite is actually factual! People have been known to cite fake news stories from The Onion, a paper and website that parodies real news sources or discuss outrageous "Calvin Klein" or "McDonald's" ads from Adbusters, which is clearly an activist organization. Social Bookmarks CiteULike The focus of this website is on scholarly content, much of which is not freely
available. The links often point to sources--databases, bookstores, Google
Scholar--where information can be previewed and/or purchased. This can
function much like catalog searching. See how to use this resource to stay on
top of topics of interest and follow users with a similar research focus. Facebook & Social Bookmarks—How can I use them? One of the best ways I use Twitter, Facebook, and Delicious is by following users and institutions that post links to timely information. My wall is always full of links to news stories and resources focused on art, libraries, design, and technology.

See the ReadWriteWeb blog post about the sophisticated way that magazine used Delicious to stay current on tech trends:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/rip_delicious_you_were_so_beautiful_to_me.php#more Let's not forget citation Check out the APA blog for specific tips on citing social media sources

Four pieces of key information:

Author, A. (date). Title of document [Format description]. Retrieved from http://URL Presentation by Rebecca Fitzsimmons:

Find this presentation at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/rfitzsim12?feature=mhum http://www.polleverywhere.com/multiple_choice_polls/MzY2MzAxNDc0 TED http://www.ted.com/ Critical Thinking Critical thinking is... "Critical thinking is the skilled and active interpretation and evaluation of observations and communications, information and argumentation."

- Fisher and Scriven, 1997 Tweet your response and tag #infolit Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that is written and edited by the people who use it. “What defines the best minds,” Keen argues, “is their ability to go beyond the ‘wisdom’ of the crowd and mainstream opinion.” Wikipedia is premised on a contrary theory of truth that would have seemed familiar to George Orwell: if the crowd says that two plus two equals five, then two plus two really does equal five. - John-Paul Flintoff, The Sunday Times
Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/personal_tech/article1874668.ece Fact vs. opinion
Scholarly vs. popular
Professional vs. Amateur What is driving the information need? http://library.albany.edu/usered/eval/evalweb/
University of California, Berkeley Library
Library guide on evaluating information sources

University of Albany, University Libraries
Excellent resource on evaluating web content A wiki is a web site that allows users to change, add, or correct contents. This editing can be open to any website visitors or it can be offered to authorized members of the community. But consider this: When was the last time you were allowed to cite an encyclopedia as a source for college-level research?

http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1413/1331 Study: Wikipedia as Accurate as Britannica
http://news.cnet.com/Study-Wikipedia-as-accurate-as-Britannica/2100-1038_3-5997332.html Nature's responses to Encyclopaedia Britannica

Download the PDFs called Encyclopedia Britannica and rebuttal Article on New Media has good and bad points, but how do we decide if it is authoritative? Try to find as much information listed on the questions page as possible! Styles vary, but don't overcomplicate! Note: Delicious may be sold or closed by Yahoo in the near future Complete and turn in the worksheet on evaluating sources. Choose one answer to post on the class discussion board. Activity Follow channels and leave comments Follow organizations that share useful information Expert videos and discussion forums Is Wikipedia a useful source? How do you define critical thinking? Any questions? Email me at:
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