Info Trolling at the Ivory Tower


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Guest lecture for ETCV 411, examining the epistemology of crowdsourced information and the limits of traditional academic models. How do information and publishing cycles work; what are their roles in encouraging or hindering certain types of information; and how can more democratized crowdsourced models be used for education, and what are their drawbacks? Download PPT for notes included with the slides.

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  • About me, Instructional Services LibrarianInterest in emerging techTalk today: epistemology of crowdsourced info: limits on model and how compares w/ traditional academic knowledgeAbout titleQ: How many of you are familiar with crowdsourcing? Can you give an example?
  • Monks: religious, transcriptionGutenberg press: ubiquity, more voices heard, controlled by money/powerLiteracy (elite control knowledge)Formal publishing today more democratized, but still issues & issues w/ distribution“Despite the emergence and popularization of the content-creating technologies of Web 2.0 – which have challenged dominant structures of knowledge production and dispersion – much of the means to create and distribute information continues to reside in the hands of the powerful and elite.” –Maura Seale, p. 225, Critical Library Instruction
  • Q: Anyone want to take a stab at explaining difference between curation and aggregation?Aggregation = internet, every page on x that exists, organized / not based on quality or accuracy / information overloadCuration = often human, selected on criteria: accuracy, value, impact / does not include everything, vetted, evaluated, approvedExamples: publishing, peer-review, library collections, art exhibitsQ: What is peer-review? What might be drawbacks of peer-review?Define peer-review, lengthy process
  • Peer-reviewed sources take the longest amount of time in cycle; higher quality takes more time?Web is immediateQ: What happens with this model when we consider time-sensitive issues related to culture and news?By the time published, info could have changed – in end, becomes historical recordMy experience with publishing
  • (Image =First edition of Encyclopedia Britannica)Politics of knowledge production and traditional encyclopediasExperts write articlesPeer-reviewed, fact checkingPublished (influence? Personal agendas?)Mistakes, bias, not timely – same complaints about Wikipedia today….
  • Q: Why do most instructors not want students to use Wikipedia? “Don’t use” doesn’t = critical thinking, Freire + “banking model”Must question sources, move beyond this to post-modern approach to education… get away from canon, move toward critical thinking + constructivism“The content found in user-generated information itself can offer a challenge to dominant and mainstream discourse by introducing the words and perspectives of individuals who would otherwise not be heard…. The ways in which user-generated content is produced and disseminated … [exposes] the otherwise invisible infrastructures of dominant forms of knowledge production, including whose voices and perspectives they validate, and whose they do not.” p. 231, Maura Seale, Critical Library Instruction
  • Wikipedia is not panacea to democratizing information and solving all problems with formal publishingReview definition of crowdsourcingLook at Forkner Tweets“Pizza-based lazer music” vs electronic sounds, psychedelicWho can prove “crystal meth cosmic biker British space metal” incorrect? Accuracy: who has authoritative knowledge? Artist? Who is more right? Especially with anonymityPhilip Roth had to write letter to New Yorker to prove he was himself in editing Wikipedia entryRecorded knowledge in published sources serves as historical recordSociology student put up fake quote about recently deceased Oscar-winning composer… Guardian took as fact and used quote, didn’t offer retractionQ: What do you think are the problems with this model and issues of authority? Who has the most authority on subjective topics like music and genre? Or an author’s work?
  • From coming back to the importance of critical thinking when evaluating information, Wikipedia and other non-traditional models of crowdsourcing can be used as a teaching tool. Another example of crowdsourcing that we’ll get to more later is social bookmarking, and Diigo or Delicious are where users create their own tags to organize information.This is information literacy. The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as, “…the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information.” Evaluating doesn’t only mean if the source is accurate or not, but are there biases? Who is the author and might they have a hidden agenda (this applies especially to websites and information that has been aggregated, but also at times information that has been curated).
  • Teaching information literacy and critical thinking through crowdsourcingWikipedia Education Program, teaches about knowledge productionPartners w/ instructors & students to edit entriesFact-checkingAdding sourcesContributing to conversation
  • Research as conversation: “talk” pages = informal peer-reviewParticipate in editing and conversationConversation/peer-review has back and forth between research, submissions, feedback, editing, more researchTypically behind the scenesWhen students comfortable understanding this via familiar source, can help inspire critical thinking of other resourcesLooking at other models…
  • Recap, limits to peer-review: lengthy, potential bias, not often questioned/taken as fact, voices heard via this medium tend to be educated, white malesFictitious articles submitted for peer-reviewed publications Merck (pharmaceutical company) + Elsevier (major publisher and science database vendor), published The Australasian Journal of Joint and Bone MedicineShowcased Merck products in flattering lightDid not go through peer-review process but seemed this wayBiased and unmediated articles passed off as authoritative and credibleAlso been some instances where fake articles made it through to publication in real peer-reviewed journalsAccuracy of peer-review can be questionable sometimes = should be open to new models, which also challenge inequalitiesUser-generated content (wikis, blogs, mash-ups, message boards)New models offer greater flexibility to catch inaccuracies and hidden agendas…
  • One type of new model is the Personal Learning Network. This ties into Connectivism…. Q: Can anyone explain connectivism? “Connectivism is an idea that learning takes place in a community of learning. When you hear about a Personal Learning Network (PLN), you are hearing about a Connectivist learning community. In these environments the restrictions of authority (teacher/student), time (semesters/summers), and core reading (book and article lists) are removed and people learn instead from conversations within their network.” Lauren PressleySlide = Kari Altmann’sR-U-In?S NetworkPLN on Tumblr for other digital artists covering similar ground to explore and share together, while offering feedback Other PLNs, group peer-reviewed blogs (science, In the Library With the Lead Pipe), #Edtech chats on TwitterSpace to discuss, share information, peer-review lite
  • Tags = user-generated descriptions, organize, improve findabilitySocial bookmarking sites (Diigo, Delicious) and others, Flickr, citation management software (Zotero), cultural collections/museums, some library catalogsExample = STEVE, The Museum Social Tagging ProjectGreater interaction with collections/museums and library catalogs, and content/ news sites, databases, bookmarking sites, citation managementCan be used as PLN to share info in specific lexicon, learn about interdisciplinary and intersections of separate ideas, more active exploration of new resources
  • Remixing or mashups make something new out of existing work, you’ve probably most heard these terms related to music. Using mashups for teaching can allow students to analyze information in a new way and create something new, which ties in to constructivism.In this example, Remix My Lit, students can learn about writing and literature by collectively creating new pieces.Learn about another aspect of information literacy: copyright and intellectual property (using information)
  • Q: Have you used any of these models of crowdsourcing? How would you use them to teach students? Examples?Q: What other examples of crowdsourced information are there? What do you think of them?[Memes = another example (also a mashup)] – learn about current events and cultural concepts, analogies
  • For ETCV 411: Application of Technology in Education The course addresses the essentials of computer operations; the integration of computer technology into the learning environment; learning theory/instructional design using technology; and the use of presentation and related software. The course is directed at instructional technologists and educators.
  • Info Trolling at the Ivory Tower

    1. 1. ETCV411: Guest Lecture, Sept 20, 2012 Nicole Pagowsky, MLIS Instructional Services Librarian University of Arizona Libraries
    2. 2. 1. History of publishing2. Curation vs aggregation3. The information cycle4. Encyclopedias, Wikipedia5. Crowdsourcing6. Teaching with these tools: Theory (Info Lit)7. Teaching with these tools: Praxis, other models
    3. 3. .
    4. 4.
    5. 5. PROS CONS Need to think critically  Need to think critically Greater variety of voices  Quality control lacking heard: diversity  Who has authority? Moves through  Incorrect info as information cycle more historical record rapidly  Information overload Newer, contemporary  Hoaxes and pranks ideas easier to research easier to accomplish
    6. 6. ReferencesAccardi, M. T., Drabinski, E., & Kumbier, A. (2010). Critical library instruction:Theories and methods. Duluth, Minn: Library Juice Press.Huff, J. (2012, August 1). Thoughts on Wikipedia’s future. Rhizome. Retrievedfrom, C. (2012, September 19). Why Philip Roth needs a secondary source.The Guardian. Retrieved from, L. (2012, September 10). A series on teaching strategies for librarians:Educational psychology. Retrieved from, R. (2012, August 29). The visual artist at the centre of the post-internetexplosion. Dummy Magazine. Retrieved from Nicole Pagowsky, MLIS Instructional Services Librarian University of Arizona Libraries