What do these statements have in common?
• imbee is a great social networking community for youngsters.
• Ask.com is a search tool with many great value-added features.
• You cannot really trust Wikipedia as a reliable resource.
• MySpace is the place to be!
• Twitter is for the birds.
• The Holocaust denial page of Arthur Butz, Ph.D., is hosted at Northwestern University’s website.
• Second Life? I can’t keep up with my first life!
They are things that I used to say were true and often discussed with students. Now I have had to back off from each one of the previous statements. I got to thinking about this after a conversation with a colleague who made a comment that caught my attention. He said, "In the past, once you knew something, it usually remained a truth for you. These days, relating to technology, it is not possible to really know anything. Things just move too fast. You need to re-evaluate at least every 6 months." Now that is something that I can latch onto! Take a closer look at just three of those statements:
I got very excited about Ask.com around 2004 after hearing Gary Price speak at a conference. He described the great new features that were being added to the search engine. Then, a year or two later, most of the features were no longer in place. I no longer recommend Ask.com as a strong second choice after Google.
imbee just went out of business, I guess. I went there recently and got the sad news that it was no longer available.
I used to always take students to Butz’s page at Northwestern University, where he trumpeted his anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying views. My point was to illustrate that you cannot always trust a site just because it has a dot-edu domain. I guess they finally got fed up with him, academic freedom or not, because the information is no longer there. He can be found elsewhere on the web, by the way, if you want to show that a person who holds a doctorate is not necessarily a reliable source of information.
Jamie’s Tips for Keeping Up
So how does one keep up as the tools and resources evolve and change at a dizzying rate? One of my first bits of advice would be to belong to as many online communities as one can manage, starting with the tried-and-true listservs. I have belonged to LM_Net for at least 15 years, to EDTECH for almost as long, and to TLC (Texas Library Connection) since its inception. The value I obtain from them is incalculable, and it goes without saying that I sought input from them for this article. In response to my question about keeping up, I got a number of great responses. I take a bit of pride in the fact that the best response I got was from a former student, Jamie Camp. She is a librarian at Benfer Elementary School in Klein, Texas, which was coincidentally the first school where I served as a school librarian. She generously agreed that I could quote her response in its entirety (edited for style), so here it is:
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