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No One Knows for Sure What Information Is Anymore

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by

William Badke

on 24 October 2016

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Transcript of No One Knows for Sure What Information Is Anymore

No one knows for sure what information is anymore
So we have a real challenge here.
Never in all of human history has so much information/knowledge been available to us, without gatekeepers to tell us what will get published and what won't.

But without gatekeepers, simply knowing what is true information (which INFORMS us), and what is hokum, presents a serious problem.
Fifty years ago, we had a
pretty clear idea
of what we meant by
"information."
Rules
In the academic world this is even more of a challenge.

Can I use Wikipedia?
What websites will a professor accept?
What books and journal articles can I find with Google?
What do "academic sources" mean for a research paper?
My prof wants "peer reviewed" literature. What does that mean?
Do I have to use the library catalogue and journal databases? Why can't I just use Google? It's much easier.
Information was controlled by "gatekeepers"
because information was scarce and costly.

Gatekeepers? People in the publishing
industry who determined whether something
would be published or not.
For the most part, there were books, and there were journals/magazines
The amount of information available in the world was limited, but quality was controlled.

Then along came the Internet, more specifically, the World Wide Web.
Now you can find whatever
information your heart desires.

Just Google it!
But here's the problem:

How do we know anything we find
is real information?
The combination of shrimp and Vitamin C tablets creates arsenic poisoning.
I'm not putting down the Net. You will find a lot of
good information there. But it's not clear what is real information and what is trash or deception.

Anyone can post just about anything, and it's no crime to tell lies on the WWW.
The fact is that this is not an either/or situation. Google can help us a lot, but in the world of information reliability, even academic reliability, there is still a place for gatekeeping.

There is a place for databases that are more sophisticated than Google.
Skill with Google does not create a researcher.

Sorry about that, and just when you were feeling confident too...
In a world in which "information" is abundant, but our uncertainty about its quality is growing, we need sophisticated skills to find and evaluate the best information resources.
Suddenly....
Full transcript