Privacy Week 2010

Today is the start of the first annual Privacy Week sponsored by ALA. The UWM Libraries will be hosting an information table for students, faculty, and community members on how to adjust their privacy settings in Facebook. [Promotional flier] It feels like this is a timely event as Facebook is moving more towards a tool for getting information to advertisers than a tool for connecting with your friends.
I came across a great post today at Primevector entitled:¬†Why I Canceled My Facebook Account. There’s a cool graph on there illustrating how the recent changes to Facebook have been designed to benefit ‘the man’ and not the friend. Lots of people commented on this post. Primevector responded to a comment asking if the separation was too great and if a return to Facebook would be inevitable (my interpretation). Here is Primevector’s response:
I have not been tempted to go back because I found that my behavior online changed when I quit it. I found myself searching for things of interest, rather than waiting for something interesting to come into my feed. It is odd that the less I depend on delivered content, the more I start searching for things that actually interest me.

I included this quote because I think what it says about the online behavior of the average fb user is interesting. Most wait for content to come to them instead of searching it out. As mobile adoption continues to rise and apps continue to grow I and others believe this is the online information seeking behavior of the future.

So what are the implications for students’ skills in being able to find, evaluate, and use information efficiently and effectively for academic purposes? And not just academic, but for any purpose? First and foremost I think it means that information literacy education is still very important. It also means that there needs to be more development of information delivery tools- not just discovery, but meaningful,¬†personalized information delivery.

I’ll need to hunt down the quote, but I agree with the sentiment that fb and other social networking tools are giving rise to a smaller web instead of a large web of information. If we’re mainly concerned about play and social life online that might not be a bad thing. But for education and research that is a very bad thing.


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