Calif. School Suspends 20 over Web Site
Via Yahoo News/AP
March 3, 2006
COSTA MESA, Calif. [MAP] - A middle school student faces expulsion for allegedly posting graphic threats against a classmate on the popular MySpace.com Web site, and 20 of his classmates were suspended for viewing the posting, school officials said.
Police are investigating the boy's comments about his classmate at TeWinkle Middle School as a possible hate crime, and the district is trying to expel him.
According to three parents of the suspended students, the invitation to join the boy's MySpace group gave no indication of the alleged threat. They said the MySpace social group name's was "I hate (girl's name)" and included an expletive and an anti-Semitic reference...- READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE -
I know there are more than a few librarians who completely loathe my inclusion of online intelligence-gathering, security, cyber-terrorism, and social responsiblity in the Digital Age in any information literacy discussion.
When I'm invited into classrooms or community meetings to talk about the World Wide Web, electronic information delivery, or to do some web training, I talk about issues like this. I talk about the security problems associated with all types of online activity - I've even used Shayna's experience with a cyberstalker as an example (no names used, chica). I talk about Al Qaeda and the use of the Internet as a coordination tool, how elements of the Sept. 11 attacks were coordinated using the same IM and web-based e-mail services most people take for granted.
My justification for including these sorts of things in information literacy training? You can't get through to a user by pitching whiz-bang databases, bibliographic citation software, genealogy databases, or other online tools.
Sure, I talk about those areas. I tow the company line and cover the important stuff. But I'll be damned if I'm going to be one of those librarians who puts patrons to sleep with some (I'm sure) conference-worthy presentation on resources they will probably never use again.
Good library instruction is a lot like good sex. It requires lots of open communication, just the right words, and the seductive power of exploration.
If your partner falls asleep during sex, odds are their needs haven't been met. If a patron falls asleep during library instruction, then their needs haven't been met.
So I find ways to make it interesting, to tie information literacy to a world bigger than any stupid classroom or meeting room.
I've never had a participant of any session fall asleep. Actually, clients have been known to e-mail me months later, wanting to go another round or to go for those intense two-hour jobbers.
Trust me, mention terrorism, Hurricane Katrina, or something vaguely related to the reason you were brought into the classroom. Then tie it to the need to solve problems related to such very deadly things using information resources.
Some librarians have told me that my only job, when I do IL training, is to push web site evaluation methods for scholarly research, to peddle the controlled vocabulary of a particular database or index, and to make sure patrons know how to use an online library catalog.
Information literacy is nothing more than an idea that ties information-seeking behaviors that already exist in nature to problem-solving. So why is information literacy training often treated like some entity, some tangible skillset that exists in some magical academic universe? Information isn't a physical thing, so why do some librarians approach information literacy like they're explaining the steps to programming a VCR?
The biggest problem I've observed in how librarians approach infomation literacy training is not that patrons don't practice it. In fact, it's quite the opposite. People practice InfoLit skills every day - from finding the best ways to get a girl's phone number in a crowded party to figuring out how to build an addition onto a house to doing scholarly research.
To simply present a PowerPoint on what people can do at a particular library does such an injustice to patrons, because it focuses on the librarian-centered approach to information literacy, instead of the more inclusive user-centered approach.
The last thing on my mind is what my colleagues, locally or nationally, may think of my methods. I'm a desciple of the "Know Thy User" approach to instruction, not the "Know Thy Librarians" model. In fact, I'd rather not do instruction; I'd rather teach through something interesting.
And for Chrissakes, if you're under 65, don't dress like a retired school marm. Younger users smell fear the moment they see 20 to 40 somethings dressed like that. Get ready to be written off as irrelevant before you even open your mouth. (I learned that trick as a broadcaster; a colleague over 40 recently reaffirmed that.)
If you look like them, talk in the same slang, and can effectively communicate without sounding like a Library School faculty member, then you'll do just fine. After all, you are one of them, like it or not.
Last night I had a patron compare me to Kid Rock during a one-on-one InfoLit session. I'm assuming that that was meant as a compliment.
PBR and two hours of database queries.
Know thy user. And go where the users really are. Knowing how to explain the difference between full-text and citation-only online resources whilst playing basketball...optional.
You know what boring instruction leads to, in the end? Users who see themselves as detached from the principles behind all information-seeking behavior, who see information-seeking as something detached from nature and daily existence.
Being compared to a rock star means so much more to me than what colleagues may think, because it means I've done my job.
Digital Divide, Information Literacy, Information Science,Intelligence, Security, Social Responsibility, Terrorism, User-Centered Approach, World Wide Web