Library Skills Week 5


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  • What does desconstruct mean?
  • Imagine that you come upon the this blog, which highlights ground-breaking research on the topic of pherotones – amazing ringtones that are the audio equivalent to pheromones. (Users appear more attractive to all those around who can hear the phone ring.) This article is presented as being by Doctor Myra Vanderhood, who claims to have discovered "pherotones." As she puts it:The website will be where I gather and reveal my scientific work unlocking the secret powers of Pherotones. But this blog is intended as an ongoing diary of the life of a scientist on the verge of a major breakthrough. Are pherotones real? Is Doctor Vanderhood? Let's apply the Five W's of Cyberspace.
  • From these results it becomes apparent that Myra Vanderhood is a controversial figure. Many of the references take her at face value, while others suggest she is a fraud or, indeed, entirely fictional.
  • Doctor Vanherood uses emotional language to persuade her audience and to create a sense that she is struggling against a scientific establishment that is trying to suppress her findings. She makes strong assertions, but does so using vague language and anonymous sources:...The controversy swirling around me right now centers around one basic fact, a fact I do not dispute...I have only anecdotal evidence, and most of it is based on a lost weekend in Copenhagen....just got back from another trip to Denmark, and I am more convinced than ever that Pherotones are real.... I know what I know.It's important to note the information gaps in statements like these. This article contains an abundance of unsubstantiated, anecdotal information, but very little factual evidence to substantiate claims. Doctor Vanderhood repeatedly says she "knows" pherotones work, but offers no evidence might support her claims.
  • They do not have any control over the content or judge whether their bloggers are legitimate authorities.In her profile, Doctor Vanderhood claims to work for "Research Triangle Park" in North Carolina. Although no further information about Research Triangle Park is given, if it is any kind of academic or research institution it is odd that they would not have their own Web domain. (A domain ending in .edu would indicate a legitimate American university.
  • A bit more research turns up the truth: according to this article in the New York Times, "Doctor Vanderhood" is a fictional character created by a cell phone manufacturer. Despite the fairly obvious nature of the hoax, though, a surprising number of other bloggers and Internet commenters fell for it, or at least believed it enough to lend it credibility -- more evidence that when it comes to the Internet, it's not enough to rely on what other people think: you have to confirm things for yourself, and when in doubt, doubt!
  • They work with psychologists: Have you ever entered a contest on the Internet?•If so, did you have to submit any information? What was it?•Were the contest rules easy to find?•Did you read the contest rules?•Were the rules clear and easy to understand?•Did the rules say what would happen to any information you submitted?•Do you feel comfortable submitting your personal information to such corporations?•How is entering a contest on a Web site different from entering a contest by mail? How is it similar?The Internet's interactive nature permits companies to create online environments where advertising is seamlessly integrated with graphics, games and activities. These virtual playgrounds aim to fosterbrand recognition and brand loyalty.Marketers also capitalize on the Internet's potential for collecting personal data from young people.They do this through the use of online registration forms which kids must complete to become members of Web sites, play games, collect prizes or participate in activities. The collection of personal information through online quizzes and surveys is also quite common.
  • Library Skills Week 5

    1. 1. Internet Usage: Safety { Week 5
    2. 2. Young people who are perfectly adept at using Technology to Find information are often lost when it comes to evaluating it
    3. 3. deconstruct a Web page in order to determine its credibility as a source of information
    4. 4. http://www.pherotones.blogspot .com/
    5. 5. Who is Doctor Myra Vanderhood? Is information about the author and conference clearly stated or easy to access? The profile on her Web site gives little useful information -- most importantly, there is no contact information given. However, an information search can be used to dig a little deeper.
    6. 6. Who is the source? What am I getting? When was the site created? Where am I? Why am I here? How can I tell this is a quality Web site?
    7. 7. What are you getting? Is the information biased? Does the site use loaded language or make broad, unsubstantiated claims? Can the information be verified through other sources?
    8. 8. When was this article posted? Is it current? Has it been updated? Although the "What's" are certainly enough to make you question the information on this Web page, let's follow through on the other W's, to see what we come up with. Questions surrounding the currency of this information also bring up some interesting points. The entries on this blog range from December 2005 to February 2006. If Doctor Vanderhood and pherotones exist, it seems odd that the blog should just stop after three months.
    9. 9. Where is this Web page located? What's the nature of the site? Is it a personal home page? Is it part of a university or hospital site? Where is this Web page located? The original page where we found this information was at By paring this URL down to its domain name,, we are able to learn more about the nature of the Web site hosting this information. We discover that "" is a service that hosts blog sites for free.
    10. 10. Why would I use this site as a credible source of information? Can I verify the information I've found? The question that remains to be asked, is WHY would we think this site is a credible source of information? In researching this topic, we've learned a number of things: First, the blog claims that Doctor Vanderhood has discovered "pherotones." Second, many sources suggest that Doctor Vanderhood is a fraud or is, herself, a hoax.
    11. 11. The New York Times
    12. 12.  What kind of Web site is this? What is its purpose: To inform? To sell? To entertain? To persuade?  Is it a commercial Web site? A personal home page? An educational site? How can students tell?  What's the "big picture" here? Is this a privacy or safety issue? A matter of authentication? Does this relate to good citizenship online?
    13. 13. Apply