Last weekend, I read The Information Diet by Clay Johnson. These days before I buy almost anything from a book to a vacuum cleaner I check online reviews. Reviews for this book were mixed, but positive enough for me to buy it. I needed something new on media bias and a reminder to not be sucked into so much mindless surfing.
While there were a few interesting points about transparency and broadcast media, on the whole I found the book somewhat depressing and scattered. One chapter covers digital literacy, or as we know it, information literacy. The book fails to acknowledge the role information professionals have played in this, research on information behaviour, or even how we can help you find quality research.
I questioned, after finishing the book, whose fault is that? Debates around information literacy have for years focused on the inability of librarians to brand it as something anyone outside our profession understands. We have also not joined forces with those working on media literacy as much as we could have which could raise IL’s profile.
And yet, as I wonder with any book that clearly is researched and consults academic materials: how can a book be written about one of our primary services and not even be noticed during the process of obtaining that research?
I also reflected on the reviews I had read before making the decision to buy the book. Is it more a factor of the brokenness of reviews, the deprofessionalisation of reviewing that is frustrating to me? My last project working in libraries was to implement a discovery layer. Ranking, the role of reviews, and ‘aboutness’ were interesting by-products of the decisions we made. I can’t help but think that as we continue to absorb more and more information everyday, it’s not important merely whether or not you can get to the data source (as Johnson advises) but that you can easily and effectively find those sources between all the noise. Which, even if you are digitally literate, might be a challenge without access to information, good search, and advocates for quality information – including librarians.
Originally published on the semanticlibrary.net blog