I recently took a few minutes to reflect upon the effect of the new digital landscape upon me and how I search for information. I recalled something that I discovered as I pursued my master’s degree in Library and Information Science. One day, a few classmates and I were discussing our histories and found that we all had quite varied backgrounds. Using myself as an example, I majored in German and Economics in college, enjoyed all types of activities growing up, from athletics to the arts and scored just about equally well on the math and verbal portions of my SAT’s. Even the career questionnaire I took in college did not reveal any singular great passion that I should follow. Be it accountant or nurse, I could do one job just as well as the other. My classmates and I came to the realization that a broad range of interests was what made us gravitate to librarianship, because it involved a broad range of topics.
Post-graduate, I came to delight in the variety my job as a school librarian afforded me. I would work with numbers when dealing with my budget, research an innumerable amount of topics for students and for professional development, have both fiction and non-fiction works at my fingertips, work with groups and also independently, organize and catalog items (one of my favorite pastimes), and write. Politics, art, science, poetry; being a librarian involves you in, well, everything.
It is this insatiable appetite for all things that is precisely why the internet can be a difficult place to find myself. If you are a person who is dedicated to only a few things, it is easy to find groups, sites and databases that you can concentrate on. However, if you are looking for information on a lot of different things, you can easily become buried in an avalanche of choices, unable to climb up and out to the fresh air to look at anything meaningfully. It can be difficult for even a professional information specialist, such as myself, to assess one source of information from another, I can’t imagine what it is like for the average person.
Our society is being overrun with information. It is the blessing and curse of the Internet. Hence, the need for specialists to help educate people on how to assess what they come across and how to make knowledgeable choices, lest we become swathed in dreckitude (thanks, Andre Leon Talley).