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Creating Information From Data…

June 5, 2007

I think, however, that simply calling the current school-age generation a “generation of editors” is a little too limiting. It’s true that today’s kids don’t have to hunt down kernels of information as if they’re ancient Cro-Magnon scrounging for roots and berries. Instead, it seems to be replacing those hunting-and-gathering skills with the ability to synthesize and combine information in ways that my own Baby Boomer mind can’t always grasp.

Are We Just Editors Now? by Loyd Case of ExtremeTech

This article from ExtermeTech’s Loyd Case caught my attention this morning.  He, as ironincally has he notes, is responding to Bill Harris’ article entitled “Information”.  In it, he notes how disecting information has changed through the generations.  Both authors are comparing times to those of their generation (mid-to-late 40’s to 50’s) and even that of my parents (70’s) in how information is acquired and decoded.

So if you were researching something, you’d have to pull out a rack in the card catalog according to the alphabetized subject and flip through the cards. If you got lucky, the title of a book or a brief description would point you in the right direction. Then you had to actually find the book, skim through it, and hope that you’d find some information.

I know what you’re thinking about now: you’ve got to be freaking kidding me.

Dubious Quality: Information by Bill Harris

I remember that.  I’m, in spite of the target audience, in my 20’s and I remember the card catalog (my small, rural school district was a bit late in adopting technology).  I even remember the dewey decimal system—inspite of all attempts to forget it.  But, I’m also part, I believe of this age of information mashup—using Google or whatever information source of choice, and finding bits and pieces of data here and there, applying logic and care (ala: not everything you read on the Internet is true—you’ve had this lecture, right?), and then turning that data into information for your purpose.

Now, looking forward and seeing what the youth of today are doing is astonishing.  Collaboration, sharing, information overload using MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, even here on WordPress.  The alpha site for Popfly is a great example of the current demand—taking dozens of information services and mixing and mashing them together to come up with a solution: a photo album that contains music referenced by keywords in each photo, an address book with photos from Facebook and a map using Maps, etc.

I do agree with Loyd’s assumption that these are not “editors”, as that, to a degree, implies that nothing new is being created; however, this generation advocates data and services as multi-purpose tools and excel at finding new ways to use data and turn it into information, not simply finding a source of reference and citing it in a book report.


Categories: Education, Family, Google, WordPress
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