>Today I will be addressing the way in which we look for information. One of my favorite courses in my library science grad program was Human Information Behavior. It was a great insight into groups of people, their information needs and how they go about satisfying them. It was really fascinating. Anyone who knows even a little about sociology and psychology knows that groups of people behave in certain fashions together. Big groups, little groups, groups comprised of smaller groups…they are varied and yet are all linked by commonalities. Information has always been shaped by the needs of the people and the information world as it is today, largely defined by the Internet, has been the creation of groups of people. Wherever you go on the Internet, there are sites, blogs, and ads working to individualize information for each searcher, but it is all based upon the group or groups the individual belongs to. We are constantly being classified to fit in these groups. Even as some may try to not fit into a group, they are placed into one. Think about the incredible juxtaposition of a person sitting at a computer alone, connecting to others in cyberspace, belonging to the group and yet still being essentially alone. It’s the sort of thing that makes the concept of infinite easy.
Even as we shape the information world, it shapes us. Our habits are changing based upon the way information is made available to us. I can hardly even fathom that the Internet was just born when I was a young girl. I had no idea what email was even when I was in high school and now it is going extinct. Cassette tapes are a distant memory and CD’s are laughable. And who, who would ever consider calling a doctor when WebMD is so handy? Without weighing too heavily on the dangers of the abundance of and ease of access to information, I do feel obligated to disclaim that I am wary of all that it at our fingertips. Too much of anything is not healthy and moderation is always a good idea.
However, the reality of modern life and the people in it is that we do have all of this information and that our world has been fundamentally changed by it and there’s no dialing it back. As a librarian, I can only hope for and work towards an information world shaped by the groups for the better.