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16 May 2011 / erikduval

The burden lies with us, not with them

The IDM conference in Den Haag last Friday was a really interesting experience, on several levels…

To mention just one: it reminded me of a problem that I have with much of the work on information literacy… As I tweeted:

A nice example was the reaction to Iwan Wopereis‘s work on eyetracking to evaluate how people (well, students… – just kidding!) process google search results. No surprises: they only look at the top ranked result. So? Students are lazy? They should learn to look at the results in more detail?

No. I don’t think so.

Well, students are lazy. I was lazy as a student. Actually, if you take google results processing behavior as a yardstick, I am also lazy. So are we all.

Or, put in a different matter: if we invest more time in processing search results, then we cannot invest that time in doing something else – whether that is sleeping or getting on with our research or enjoying time with your Beloved Ones doesn’t matter.

Time can only be spent once.

Therefor, we should develop tools that enable users to find what they need effectively (the right result) and efficiently (fast).

We should not tell them that they are lazy – that is an argument that always reminds me of “quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra“: things have been going downhill with every new generation since the times of Cicero.

In other words: the burden lies with us (tool developers, teachers), not with them (users, students).

BTW, you can watch the presentation (Thx, Klaas Jan Mollema on Facebook!) or see the slides on-line (once slideshare finishes converting).

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