The “Google Generation” of researchers, the legacy of Project Gutenberg and the ultimate insult

September 9, 2011

Hello again, I did say I’d be back again quite soon – and here I am.

I have just responded to a colleague on Twitter who couldn’t locate a specific article, and it’s a bit of an eye-opener, even though it doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

Once upon a time I took a contract position in a University teaching information literacy – which included beginners to advanced Internet research as one of the topics. It was a popular module and well attended by the students, but the first time I taught this particular topic, I was expecting the students to wipe the floor with me, after all – this is THEIR generation – isn’t it? They didn’t – far from it. I sparked their imagination with the huge array of search strategies and tools for the job at hand. The article I sent to my colleague is about a report sponsored by JISC and the British Library entitled The “Google Generation” not so hot at Googling , after all and it’s written by Nate Anderson.

How’s this for a front cover? If they wanted shock factor – they achieved it. That’s just horrid!

The report is called: Information behaviour of the researcher of the future, and you’ve got the url to read this fascinating study for yourself. But I liked Nate Anderson’s comments about plagiarism and instant gratification because it mirrors a blog about young employees searching Google to sort out their corporate tech problems instead of calling the help desk. ServiceDesk360 posted the blog Young employees ignore helpdesk, search Google instead. Bomgar, who researched this corporate behaviour, says these employees are known as “Millennials”. Hmmmm…..I could call them something but it wouldn’t necessarily be “Millennial”.

The founder of Project Gutenberg , Michael S Hart, passed away recently. If you don’t know what Project Gutenberg is – you may be reading the wrong blog. Apparently there are 37,000 e-books freely available and that is a sheer amazing  legacy to leave to the world.  An article in The Atlantic says: “In an obituary on the Project Gutenberg website, Hart is remembered for the depth of his commitment to literacy. But the early texts speak to a core civic hope that is related but distinct: that there is power in ideas and that by spreading them we could make this country better. Sure, the number-one most downloaded book on the site is, by a long shot, the Kama Sutra, with more than 25,000 downloads. But Michael S. Hart, and by association his project, were about something much bigger than that.”  Thank you so much Mr Hart for leaving such a great legacy to the world;  rest in peace.

The Ultimate Insult has arrived in the form of an article twittered by another colleague Arthur Weiss.  This time I am definitely not at a loss for words. Disgraceful!  How dare the US government and their “security logistics” tactics get in the way by banning firefighting heroes from attending such an important event – and on the 10th anniversary of this sad occasion. They lost people too. This is unbelievably disrespectful. Firefighters – ignore all and do as Arthur says: Just turn up anyway.

9/11 – show some respect and include the firefighters.

You may or may not know that I have data coming in from quite a range of resources, including those from MI5 and the FBI. The FBI has a Gotcha section and recently they highlighted Operation Double O. I cannot believe anyone could be stupid enough to carry out a robbery, blow their nose and then leave a dirty tissue for forensics to play with the DNA.  Have a look at the podcast.

There’s more to come – but I’ll leave you with this for now. Back again soon.