Category Archives: Evaluating Quality of Information

Looking for needles in a haystack

Trying to find quality information on the internet can be like sifting through garbage looking for that one good piece of information.  When writing a paper, especially an academic paper, your references have to be of good quality and reputable.  Most peoples first stop when it comes to doing research is Google.  Here is the problem that comes along with using the internet, anyone can post anything on the internet.

I do not completely agree with Rheingold's point of view.  The internet is a tool and yes people need to be taught how to use it.  By the time someone is in college they have already established very poor habits.  And who is to decide what is the best way to use the internet?  I do believe that people have a responsibility not purposefully place false information on the internet, but regardless of how crazy something may be, people should be able to place what they want on the web.  For anyone who is somewhat knowledgeable about how to use the internet, it is easy to sift through the good and bad on the internet.  I've learned many skills in this class that will benefit me for a long time on doing just that.

Some of the things I do this is verifying that any site I use is a reputable site.  Once that's done verify that any article I cite has an author.  I also like to check on other works of that author to make sure he or she is not crazy.  If need be, I check to see who owns the actual website.  It is a lot like being a detective, looking for detractors from an author or an article.

garbage on the net

The Internet: a distraction or an asset?

I think both Rheingold and Carr are right to some extent. One of my sources used in the Literature Review talks about a similar issue. Is technology disconnecting us? Henry Rubin, an American filmmaker says that technology can bring us closer but it can also tear us apart. He believes that “it’s all about the power of human communication" and not technology itself. In other words, technology is just a reflection of our own actions and/or personalities and it cannot be positive or negative by itself. In his opinion, technology can have a negative effect only if you lack self-control.

Larry Rosen, past chair and professor of psychology at California State University conducted a study to determine if technology is distracting students. The result; students could concentrate for an average of 5 minutes at most before becoming distracted. Many people believe that multitasking is being able to focus on different tasks at the same time. I do not believe this to be true. You can only pay full attention to only one thing at the time. Multitasking is rather performing multiple tasks at the same time.

Another aspect that Rheingold talks about is how to be digitally responsible. No doubt what we post on the internet has an impact on those who read our posts, but also has an impact on us (the writers). In a previous blog we talked about social media and the work place and how certain comments or pictures can determine your chance to get hired or fired… There is a tip that I found in regards to social media: never post something that you would not want your boss or family to see.

Rheingold also talked about search engines and mindfulness. He suggests that we should only search for reliable, useful information. While I do agree with him I don’t believe this to be possible. What might be useful or good information for me might not be for others and vice versa. Also, now that we have the opportunity to get answers for whatever crosses our mind…Rheingold believes that  "finding what you really need to know and knowing how to sort the good from the bad info are complementary (and essential) skills in today's infosphere."





Blog Post 9: Did The Internet Raise Us?

Boy hugging computer

In an age where so much information is easily accessible to everyone, its safe to say that the internet has a huge influence on us. Everyday, people interact with the internet in some sort of way, from sharing pictures on Instagram, reading articles, or watching videos on YouTube. But, has the internet becoming a bigger part of our lives really made us less intelligent or sharper as human beings?

Simply put, the answer is no. I agree with Rheingold that the information we interact with on the internet is solely based upon our choices and decisions. Whether its a friends photos online, a movie you want to watch because of a trailer you saw on YouTube, or a news article you clicked on Facebook because it had an interesting headline, we all choose the content we see on the internet. So why are people like Nicholas Carr saying the internet is causing a decline in intelligence among humans?

This is because of how physical content has been transferred into the digital realm. Many people feel like they don't need to retain general facts or information because they feel they can summon the information through a Siri or Google Now voice command. But this doesn't mean that human beings aren't becoming less sharper, I feel as if human beings are becoming more intelligent and well upkept with current events with society. Now more than ever, people are interacting with what's happening around them, and are exchanging information/opinions on Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Whether they intended to or not, people at the end of the day are learning from each other, even if they don't comment or interact. As long as their viewing, spectating in the medium where they gain information, people who use the internet are learning and becoming smarter, regardless of Carr's claims.

Evaluating the Quality of Information

I agree with Rheingold’s argument. I believe that as researchers and users of the Internet we must be responsible and have the ability to sift through and separate the reliable from the unreliable. A growing problem in today’s society is the means by which we obtain our information. Today’s lifestyle is fast pace and everyone is looking for information in an effortless manner. This is one of the biggest issues that I have uncovered through my research throughout the semester. Users are still unable to separate reliable information from unreliable information because they are looking for the information in the simplest way possible.

Although there is a big burden on us as the consumers to make this distinction, there is also a burden upon the producer to put out quality information. With the rise of social media in today’s society, it is questioning which information is considered quality information and which is not.      Although the issue of circulation of reliable information is much more complex it is definitely a resolvable issue.

Blog Post #9: Evaluating Quality of Information

Over the course of the semester, we have learned to use internet search engines alongside more traditional tools like the library catalog to locate relevant information. Arguably, one of the most important contributions Google has made to date is its "Google Books" project that has digitized millions of books and rendered them full-text searchable. As Howard Rheingold points out in the first Chapter of NetSmart, however, critics of the web and how we use it, critics such as Nicholas Carr, argue that the internet is "making us stupid," degrading the quality of our memories and our ability to recall, retain, and use information.

Rheingold himself, though, takes a less pessimistic stance. He argues that it's not the internet itself, but rather the way we tend to use the technology that is contributing to the intellectual decline Carr has observed:

Again, I reject the simple deterministic answer that the machine's affordances inevitably control the way we use the mechanism. Shallow inquiry--the unformed way in which many people use search engines to find answers--is the deeper problem, and one that can be remedied culturally. Just as the ancient arts of rhetoric taught citizens how to construct and weigh arguments, a mindful rhetoric of digital search would concentrate attention on the process of inquiry--the kinds of questions people turn into initial search queries, and the kinds of further questions that can deepen their search (53).

According to Rheingold, "finding what you really need to know and knowing how to sort the good from the bad info are complementary (and essential) skills in today's infosphere." So Rheingold emphasizes the responsibility we all have as readers to sift through the information we encounter on the web in order to sort reliable from unreliable, high quality from low quality sources. This is one part of what Rheingold has called "mindfulness." Another important aspect of mindfulness is being aware of what you are contributing to the information tsunami; this aspect of mindfulness focuses on our responsibility as authors to ensure that the content we are generating is ethical and credible.

"Weapons of Mass Distraction" by birgerking on Flickr.

What do you think about Rheingold's argument? Is it possible to train ourselves to be more mindful by "paying attention to attention"? Is it possible to sort bad information from good, and what knowledge from this class might help in that process? What do you think of the argument that you have a responsibility as an internet user to help ensure or maintain the quality of information that circulates on the web? What are some of the strategies you use to filter information, prevent distraction, and manage your attention?

Posting: Group 2

Commenting: Group 3

Taking a Break: Group 1

Category: "Evaluating Quality of Information"

Re-read Chapter 1 of NetSmart, and take some time to do some research of your own on the web. Then, in your Blog #9 post, take a position that attempts to answer the questions presented in this prompt. Remember, rather than simply answering a series of questions in order, use the questions as a starting point for constructing a brief essay organized around your own thesis about attention, technology, and how the internet is affecting our thinking and learning. Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog.

Image Credit: "Amidst Distractions" by Simply CVR on Flickr.