Information Literacy 2.0 by Meredith Farkas.
From the post:
Critical inquiry in the age of social media
Ideas about information literacy have always adapted to changes in the information environment. The birth of the web made it necessary for librarians to shift more towards teaching search strategies and evaluation of sources. The tool-focused “bibliographic instruction” approach was later replaced by the skill-focused “information literacy” approach. Now, with the growth of Web 2.0 technologies, we need to start shifting towards providing instruction that will enable our patrons to be successful information seekers in the Web 2.0 environment, where the process of evaluation is quite a bit more nuanced.
Critical inquiry skills are among the most important in a world in which the half-life of information is rapidly shrinking. These days, what you know is almost less important than what you can find out. And finding out today requires a set of skills that are very different from what most libraries focus on. In addition to academic sources, a huge wealth of content is being produced by people every day in knowledgebases like Wikipedia, review sites like Trip Advisor, and in blogs. Some of this content is legitimate and valuable—but some of it isn’t.
While I agree with Meredith that evaluation of information is a critical skill, I am less convinced that it is a new one. Research, even pre-Internet, was never about simply finding resources for the purpose of citation. There always was an evaluative aspect with regard to sources.
I was able to take a doctoral seminar in research methods for Old Testament students that taught critical evaluation of resources. I don’t remember the text off hand but we were reading a transcription of a cuneiform text which had a suggested “emendation” (think added characters) for a broken place in the text. The professor asked whether we should accept the “emendation” or not and on what basis we would make that judgement. The article was by a known scholar so of course we argued about the “emendation” but never asked one critical question: What about the original text? The source the scholar was relying upon.
The theology library had a publication with an image of the text that we reviewed for the next class. Even though it was only a photograph, it was clear that you might get one, maybe two characters in the broken space of the text, but there was no way you would have the five or six required by the “emendation.”
We were told to never rely upon quotations, transcriptions of texts, etc., unless there was simply no way to verify the source. Not that many of us do that in practice but that is the ideal. There is even less excuse for relying on quotations and other secondary materials now that so many primary materials are easy to access online and more are coming online every day.
I think the lesson of information literacy 2.0 should be critical evaluation of information but as part of that evaluation to seek out the sources of the information. You would be surprised how many times what an authors said is not what they are quoted as saying, when read in the context of the original.