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January 28, 2009


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Same lazy thinking in the academic world.

As a librarian, I see so many students who unflinchingly pull something from the internet and use it without any thought to the quality. Professors who are either in the "all bad" camp on the internet or so amazed that they can get their journals for "free" on the internet (of course, everyone forgets that the library pays a huge sum to allow them access to the subscription resources).

And despite the sophistication of the information and tools to access it, no one bothers to learn how to use the tools.

MapleStreet, this kind of lazy thinking is everywhere. It's part of human nature. We categorize things, make generalizations, then operate on those generalizations, good or bad. Racism, sexism, religious chauvinism... In every case, the stupid is pretty damned obvious.

What amazes me is that so many very smart people who use the internet for a gazillion things every freakin' day don't seem to recognize the stupid in this kind of situation. They'd freak out if they heard somebody lump my chorus newsletter in with the New York Times, when both are print publications designed to disseminate news. How is that different from what they're doing here?

BTW, for what it's worth, a link to Academic Search Premier is in my syllabus and on my course website. I have a long discussion about what is a valid source, what isn't, and a strong recommendation to vet sources with me before using them in a paper. And I tell them the librarian is their bestest friend in the whole world when it comes to writing a history paper.

I'm also attending a workshop on Saturday that promises an introduction to new tools available from the Library of Congress online. I can't wait!!! I heart librarians!

You know, Athenae, if I actually encountered you offline on a regular basis I would probably try to bait you every day or two in the hopes of being rewarded with a quality rant like this. "It's a big internet" is hilarious.

Thanks for the kind words BuggyQ.

The Academic Search Premiere and Elite are interesting animals with a wide range of materials. About once a year, I have to explain why we get Highlights and Ranger Rick.

@dan: I do encounter her every day and you don't need to bait to get the rant. That's the best part.


I think internet advertising gurus make too much of a fetish of targeting and the ability to make fresh ads in old stories, and then archive the ads. Did you ever grab or save an old paper from the stack because you remembered and ad for something you liked? You can't do that online.

I think if you swapped banner ads and sidebar ads for ads in the same space as content and then archived the ad in the with the old stories you'd have a more friendly model with a longer tail for the ads (more time for them to make impressions).

"It's a big internet" frankly brings to mind Sturgeon's Law (or Revelation) concerning how much of any group of "stuff" is crap (90% of science fiction, as he told the story at the time). Considering he is supposed to have made this reference before 1960, it's interesting that it continues to be accurate and completely applicable to the current whipping boy known as the internet!

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