Sunday, October 21, 2007

Information R Us

Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Kansas State University – the same man who provided us with the thought-provoking video "Web 2.0...The Machine is Us/ing Us" – is back with a new video about how the Web is changing how to archive and find information.

This piece has given me a lot to think about on a Sunday morning. Since I received my primary schooling before the public received access to the Internet and the World Wide Web, I recognize that I am still partially constrained by the concepts that Mr. Wesch presents in this new video.

Sure, I have made inroads into using the break-out concepts he records in this video, but I still find myself being pulled back to my roots and the need for some form of hierarchy. The need for organization, for structure, and for some form of expert to monitor and control information still exists. Not so much to tell us what to do or what to think, but to try and control the flow of information. Something like a traffic cop.

I could accept his suggestion that the hierarchy is no longer needed – that links and search engines are all that is required (or expected) – if I had some confidence that our schools are teaching our children how to search the web. There is a science (or maybe its an artform) to composing a finely-tuned search phrase. A means of getting around the commercial clutter that is returned on many search requests for information.

Maybe that needs to become the next phase in making our children computer literate. With computers common and freely available in schools and public libraries, the next big push in our schools must be teaching our children the language of the search engine so that they can find the information they need without being bombarded with useless information or commercial websites.

No comments: