Information Literacy and the Google Generation

February 11, 2008 at 2:31 pm 1 comment

Some excerpts from

A paper entitled “information behaviour of the researcher of the future” from the British Library 

Today’s kids:

“They are the ‘cut-and-paste’ generation

Our verdict: We think this is true, there is a lot of
anecdotal evidence and plagiarism is a serious issue.”

[but reward me for the cut and paste!  Don’t require kids to dumb down information to make it sound like their own words!]

“They pick up computer skills by trial-and-error

Our verdict: This is a complete myth. The popular view
that Google generation teenagers are twiddling away on
a new device while their parents are still reading the
manual is a complete reversal of reality, as Ofcom
survey findings confirm.”

[I can’t refute these findings, but it’s certainly true in my experience.  I don’t know if it’s due to a shorter attention span or an increased willingness to try stuff out in a digital environment since you know you can’t screw it up that bad; even if you do there are no serious repercussions – you just reboot.  I am convinced digital natives think differently as Prensky discusses in Don’t bother me mom, I’m learning]

“They prefer quick information in the form of easily
digested chunks, rather than full text

Our verdict: This is a myth. CIBER deep log studies
show that, from undergraduates to professors, people
exhibit a strong tendency towards shallow, horizontal,
‘flicking’ behaviour in digital libraries. Power browsing
and viewing appear to be the norm for all. The popularity
of abstracts among older researchers rather gives the
game away. Society is dumbing down.”

[This is a rather inflammatory statement – perhaps with the information smog we live with we can’t afford to breath deeply in a specific cloud of knowledge anymore, but rather we have to sample the wind and have a basic familiarity with everything.  Maybe we tend to ‘sample’ more than we used to.  What is more important these days: having a deep understanding in a niche area, or a shallow understanding in a broad sweep of topics?  And do you really need to understand anything, or can you just quote the snippets of information you see associated with a link after a Google search?  And who knows the difference?]

“In a real sense, we are all Google generation now

The most significant finding [of our study] was that, although
the teachers interviewed were information literate, their skills
with and attitudes towards information literacy were not being
transferred to their pupils.

…a large minority of freshmen entering
college and university with low levels of information

…intervention at university age is too late: these students
have already developed an ingrained coping behaviour:
they have learned to `get by’ with Google….

….information skills have to be developed during formative
school years

….Gradually, the Internet is sinking into the background
as a tool that everyone takes for granted Any barrier to access
[to information by alternative means]: be that
additional log-ins, payment or hard copy, are too high
for most consumers and information behind those
barriers will increasingly be ignored.

….Information skills are needed more than ever and at a
higher level if people are to really avail themselves of
the benefits of an information society

….these skills need to be inculcated during the
formative years of childhood

….This will require concerted action between libraries,
schools and parents.

We are all librarians now”

[I agree with these observations, however I restate my concerns from Johnstons and Webber’s paper about Information Literacy, “…information literacy as a tool that needs to be taught, used, and applied in context, in a practical way, to show utility and relevance.  For example, teaching search skills for the sake of search skills is not as effective as teaching search skills during a research paper assignment.”]


Entry filed under: information literacy.

Stuff from Wired February, 2007 Guitar Hero and real guitar

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Keep it short and sweet « Feed My Pet Brain  |  June 24, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    […] don’t lack for information. Today our scarce resource is attention.  Maybe we tend to ’sample’ more than we used to and forego a deep understanding in a niche area for a shallow understanding […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Companion wiki tags


%d bloggers like this: