Alchemical Thoughts

Brief note on Google Generation Study

Posted on: February 14, 2008

Let me start with a hat tip to Blogging Pedagogy for pointing to the this Ars Tecnica post on a report about researchers and information behavior. The report, sponsored by British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee, dispels many of the common myths and assumptions about the Google Generation, defined in the report as "a popular phrase that refers to a generation of young people, born after 1993, that is growing up in a world dominated by the internet." The L2 gurus are always telling us how the Google Gens are hip, impatient, and always willing to embrace Google for their research assignments. They also like to remind us how the Google Gens will forsake libraries since they are so comfortable in and adept at using online tools. For the L2 folks, it's often another reason to sound the death knell of libraries yet again. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle, and the report gives some evidence to tell us it is not as simple as the gurus make it sound.

For me, the report provided a lot of questions. Was it hopeless? Not quite, but it can be a wake up call. I did actually read the whole thing, and I made a lot of notes as I was reading it of things that struck me, or made me think. I think I had enough for two pretty substantial posts, but to be honest, I don't quite feel like posting the notes. If I recall, maybe one or two of the librarian bloggers picked up on it (as in said something along the lines of "go take a look."). It did get picked up in the Wired Campus blog as well here. The comments there mostly reflect the usual audience of the Chronicle of Higher Education, for what it's worth. Yet I think the report should be looked at by librarians, especially those in instructional roles. It should be discussed. One idea I had was passing it on to our instruction librarian. There are some items in the document that could be used as talking points for promoting the library's instruction program. Anyhow, just thinking aloud a bit. In the meantime, I will file the rest of the draft for now.

Update/Supplement Note (same day): Nancy Deegan, writing for The Information Literacy Land of Confusion, points to a small exploratory study reported on First Monday, on the topic of Google and students. The sample used is extremely limited, which reminds me why I always take the time to read the methodology of articles. Anyways, another addition.

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