A great information seeking behavior paper was brought to my attention by the new blog cinfolit. The paper is titled, “New shit has come to light”: Information seeking behavior in The Big Lebowski” by Janke, Karen L.; Dill, Emily A. Okay, so the paper is not great by virtue of its findings, but great by virtue of its critical interpretation of the information seeking behaviors of four characters from The Big Lebowski. As a fan of the film I really enjoyed looking at the characters through the lens of information seeking behavior. For as many times as I’ve seen this film, it has never occurred to me to engage the characters on that level.
The authors do a good job of positioning the film in relation to the development of the Internet as well as the role of information seeking in any mystery or private investigation story. Even though the Internet is 18 years old this year, there is a still a section of society that largely seeks information without the help of the Internet. And amongst those that do seek information on the Net, we find that many still behave more like Walter where they aggressively seek out information that meets their current world view.
When it comes to undergraduate researchers I’d say they are bit more like The Dude- open to finding new information, but lacking a clear direction as to where to find the most appropriate information. Therefore they take whatever comes into their path without a clear sense of when their need is filled. Filling the need is not necessarily the goal (which is a good thing in my mind) but more a matter of necessity and timing. What’s the minimum amount of information I need? What’s the smallest amount of time I need to accomplish this task?
Hopefully as students progress through their college careers they become more like Maude who had a clear sense of the information she needed and knew the best ways to get that information.
I’d like to think that this paper would make for a good conversation in an Information Literacy course, but I’m not sure that The Big Lebowski is readily accessible to most 18 year olds today. I think most of the people my age have seen it, but the current entering freshmen was born in 1992 and this film came out in 1998. So students might need to be required to view the film first.
Of course if you’re in town this weekend you can catch it down at Discovery World’s Point Brewery’s Fish Fry and a Flick.