Re: RIP Yahoo

Posting to Autocat

On 19/07/2013 21:05, john g marr wrote:


how do I weigh each of these [Websites] critically? … What do we call this state of affairs? Information overload …

This creates a problem rather than resolving it by approaching it backwards. If you make the purpose of evaluating information to practice the thinking process itself rather than to absorb details, then you become a better thinker as you go, you can set rational boundaries on what you can manage to absorb as your ability to think increases, and you can’t be “overloaded.”

If something confuses you, focus on your thinking process rather on what seems confusing. It’s your brain, not what you read, that determines how well you understand anything.
You’ll even be better able to control your emotions (e.g. fear and anger) if you decide to think about thinking rather than reacting to conflict. This is extremely important, especially now that media is ubiquitous and there are intentional efforts being made to destabilize people with confusion and emotional manipulation.
Just ask yourself whether each Website is thorough, testably factual, conjectural, or *possibly* biased and thus manipulative until you have developed the ability to make those judgments. Then go back and make the judgments on specific issues.

But this is psychoanalyzing me–not giving me practical help on how to deal with hundreds/thousands/millions of information resources. Someone who is looking at all that needs some practical help–they don’t need to hear that the problem lies with their own fears and anger.

Because the fault is not theirs. The task is simply too big to tackle it that way. This is like telling the great baseball hitter that when he finds a hundred fastballs all heading for him at one time, that it is his fault that he can’t hit them all back. No, it’s not his fault. After being pelted so many times, he can decide to give up and lose himself in a video game. If he is more persistent, he can realize that he is dealing with something he has never experienced and if he is to hit those balls back, he needs help of some sort. Maybe he needs a hundred other baseball players, or someone can build a machine that can handle a hundred balls at once. But saying that he could solve it if he only got control of his thinking is completely bogus. He is overloaded.

This happens all the time with people searching the web and mostly, I think they have given up and placed their “trust” in the Google-type algorithms. Not because they understand those algorithms or because they really and truly think they are getting the “best”. It isn’t that they really “trust” the Googles, in my opinion–rather, it is their only tool and they do so more out of despair because they have no other options. This explains why people get so angry when you “dis” the Googles. People just do not want to think that they are being spoon-fed different types of “search engine optimizations” pap (also known as “Google bombs”) and fly at those who even suggest it.

It is up to librarians to provide an alternative to the Googles–not to embark on a fruitless attempt to “improve” on Googles because it is clear that those companies can kill us on those grounds–but to provide something that the public wants and that the Googles cannot provide. The main thing for librarianship is to make a tool that provides an ethical, useful alternative to the Googles, and a tool that works in reality. This means: it is time to throw theory into the trashcan. Let the theoreticians adapt their metaphysical models to the practical examples of success in the real world–not vice versa.

Psychoanalyzing the public and teaching them how to think can remain a sideline for some librarians, but it may not be appreciated.