I is for information on the Internet

And I won’t even get into malicious disinformation.

As a librarian, I naturally rely on data that are credible. When answering reference questions, I am loath to give out inaccurate information.

When I hear/read something that doesn’t seem correct, I’ll often ask, “Where did you get that?” More often than not, they’ll say, “I saw it on the Internet.” Or “Facebook” or “Twitter.” But that isn’t the answer to the question. I’m looking for whether they got it from CNN’s website or FOX News’ Facebook page or the New York Times’ Twitter feed. This helps me to ascertain how much credence I should give a report.

Also, since I scan a LOT of news, I start to see trends. A few months back, I read that Kirk Douglas, the actor, died four days shy of his 101st birthday. But I never saw this in ANY source I had actually heard of, such as the Washington Post or Chicago Tribune. Immediately, I went to Snopes.com and discovered it was a death hoax.

This process helps me determine whether the things I read are true. I saw an unattributed graphic that said that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wanted to raise the Medicare age to 76. I had never heard that before. Sure enough, there was a 2016 story that Ryan wanted to hike the age requirement to 67, which is bad enough, but NOT 76. One’s antipathy for a politician may make the worst news seem plausible, though not necessarily accurate.

A friend of mine, obviously frustrated that she was asked an easily knowable thing, mused, “Doesn’t anyone Google anymore?” Assuredly they do, but it does not mean that it’ll be right. I Googled for the price of a current first-class stamp and the first item I found gave the information for 2015 rather than 2018.

And I won’t even get into malicious disinformation. Or the difference between fact and opinion.

Some people have said to me that being a librarian now must be easier because I have so much information at my fingertips. Others have said that we don’t NEED librarians now because EVERYONE has so much information at their fingertips. Neither of those assertions is true; librarians spend an inordinate amount of time separating the wheat from the chaff.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

11 thoughts on “I is for information on the Internet”

  1. I also seem to remember that some years back, Google changed their algorithm for what got turned up, and it made it worse for people actually seeking useful information (but better, apparently, for the SEO types who like to game the system).

    I think one of the useful things a kid can develop (whether learned from parents or in school) is a BS detector, where you stop and go, “Wait, that’s not right…” and go check it (with a reliable fact-checking source)

  2. I find now with the internet that people are only happy with short burst of info, we are being trained to absorb only short amounts of media now with the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. People are multi-tasking and absorbing the short amount of info on their computer before moving on to the next new thing. What will this do to the human brain? We will not be able to process lengthy amounts of work and will rely totally on the computer to do that. What do you think? And Happy Happy Birthday Roger, thanks for all the work you do for bloggers.

  3. Indeed… the net provides loads of info but correct is it not Always.

    Happyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy birthdayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy wishing you lots and lots of years more in the best of health, happyness and love.

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♪ (ABC-W-team)

  4. Fake news was the word of the year 2017.
    People don’t do any background checks. Biased or misinformed media or anyone can share misleading info…

    Happy B’day Roger!
    Be blessed & enjoy!

  5. wonderful post and no surprise! Being a librarian ~ I would be surprised if you chose another topic ~ always good ‘info’ ~ data here ~

    Happy Week to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  6. An informative post, Roger, thank you. Before the Internet, i generally trusted what I read in the news and reference books. All bets are off now.

    Happy Birthday!

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