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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

26 March 2006

The intelligent Google user

“Are search engines making today’s students dumber?” asks Edward Tenner in the New York Times. The article is more anecdote than argument, but here is part of the thesis: “In the February newsletter of the American Historical Association, the reference librarian Lynn D. Lampert notes the prevalence of ‘ill-conceived (or often nonexistent) student research practices.’ As another university librarian, Pamela Martin, observed, ‘Google’s simplicity and impressive search prowess trick students into thinking they are good all-around searchers, and when they fail in library searches, they are ashamed as well as confused.’

Having spent a lot of time using both Google and Library searches (and having helped others master their skills in them) I think there are two impediments in searches: either people are not familiar with a program and hence don’t know how to do advance searches, are too timid to toss away a bad search or cannot recognize where along the way their search turned bad; or, the alternative, is that people do not understand how their search results do not match their desired outcome. The former can be overcome with practice, the latter hardly so.

References:
Edward Tenner, “Searching for Dummies,” New York Times, 26 Mar 06 (link)

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