External Learning – Finding Trusted Sources

One of the classic examples used by librarians to emphasize the importance of their profession is to type something into Google. Try this example


The context sensitivity of the results has increased significantly since the last time I tried this experiment, but the question still remains. Which Paris am I searching for? Paris, France; Paris Hilton, The Paris Hilton (as in the hotel) or Paris Idaho? I would then draw your attention to the number of results (580,000,000 as of 4:30 PM Eastern Time). The purpose of this example would be to show ‘JUST HOW MUCH INFORMATION IS OUT THERE!!!’.

Of course, research has shown that most people don’t click beyond the first few pages of a Google search and use strings of search terms that limits the amount of information pulled up by search engines.

One way to limit your overflow of information is to identify a number of trusted sources to go to for specific information. For example, when I am looking for information on American business trends, I tend to use Business Week. For international business, I turn to The Economist. For Web 2.0 software in public libraries, I turn to Jessamyn West at librarian.net. For business Knowledge Management software I like The App Gap . For general software, computer and personal information, I turn to MetaFilter.

I use my RSS reader, Google Reader to pull information from all of these sources into one central inbox. From there, I share any information I really like and will probably read again on my Google Reader share page. As you can see; American and Canadian politics, feminism, business, history and religious studies all interest me a great deal.

What you can do to ‘externalize’ your learning:

1) Identify individuals and groups providing information that you can depend on.

2) Aggregate that information any way you can. Clipping services, Factiva’s reminder service, RSS feeds are all solid and proven aggregation tools.

3) Review your sources periodically and remove outdated sources as needed.


One Response

  1. […] 22, 2008 by Brett There has been a veritable flood of articles recently into my RSS feed reader (Google Reader!) on how to deal with a bad boss. Having dealt with my fair share of them, I’ve learned that […]

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