Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Here is my second comment/question:
I agree with Gurak that online communication can “encourage the spread of inaccurate information” (244). Ease and speed of forwarding information can also quickly unite a community around a cause/issue and create an “insider status” that does not readably permit dissenting voices (255). This insularity may also create fixed community groups and replicate boundaries the Internet is purposed to help alleviate. Should the reader/receiver be more informed and critical of postings, email, web pages, etc.? To what extent should the reader/receiver be informed or aware? Online things are not always what they seem whether that is someone’s identity in a chat room or a fraudulent website. I think it is naïve not to be a little wary or cynical because the line between truth and fiction is not as clear-cut. Earlier tonight, I was perusing articles in the ERIC database and I came across one that discussed how the concept of ‘information literacy’ is inaccurate and not compatible because the Internet requires new skills in the user given the vast information resources available and the various media formats encountered. The article went on to discuss how the role and conception of the library/librarian and learner/user had to change. It got more complex than is relevant to discuss here, but it did point out how print culture was in some sense a fixed voice of authority- a truth. Furthermore, online things are not as black and white because “linear and hierarchical approaches to thinking and learning are inadequate for the webbed cyberspace information.” “The plasticity, instability, and intertexuality of hypertext documents have eroded sacrosanct orthodoxy of authorship and authorial authority.” Users and librarians alike spend “time not so much searching but interpreting, filtering, and value–adding by creating relationships among ideas across a range of media.” “Knowledge is located not so much within the text… but in the construction of situated meanings.” Do you agree that it requires a new literacy or conception/awareness of the medium in which information is communicated? To what extent are people aware of this complexity?
(from “Information Literacy: A Positivist Epistemology and a Politics of Outformation” by Cushla Kapitzke in Educational Theory.)

And lastly:
Do you think that the “current internet structure flattens hierarchies, allowing people to correspond with each other regardless of corporate position and rank” (259)? To what extent is this true/false? Or do you agree with this statement in chapter 11: “a striking feature of a virtual sociology is how these new communication technologies can alter the organization of power so that it eludes or augments traditional hierarchical constraints in unexpected ways” (273). Are online communities creating a more dynamic, complex social system? To what extent does it mirror real society? Does the Internet offer the potential for expressions from the common people? How do issues of access become even more important?

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