Thursday, May 1, 2014

This site has been moribund for some time now due mostly to my lack of attention.

I suspect it could have a more robust life in the future, but I'd probably need a bit of collaboration. Not a lot of time commitment on anyone's part, but I'd envision a collective of 5 or 6 folks to occasionally scan the web and blogs for likely IL related videos.

If you're interested in reviving this ole blog, send me an email at

Thanks! - Bob Schroeder

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"When is Fair Use Fair?"

A Boston TV station (WGBH-2) reports on a newspaper using a photo they found on Facebook in one of their online stories. They claim that "fair use" allowed them to use it without getting permission from the author. A panel of "experts" debates whether or not it really is fair use or not. Even though the discussion is framed in the context of newspaper this video would be a good jumping off point for a discussion of fair use in an educational context.

Runs 5:56 and available at

(This video was originally brought to the attention of the ILI list on 8/21/12 by a post by Dale Labonte. She recommends a video by the Copyright Clearing Center that talks about the business use of copyright as well. This "Copyright Basics Video" runs 6:19 and is available at )

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

David Fincher's Zodiac and Information Sickness

I recently revisited David Fincher’s masterful and underrated Zodiac (2007) after reading this article by Scott Tobias of The AV Club.,59576/

Though not for the faint of heart, this film, which traces the history of the still-unsolved “Zodiac” murders that occurred in California in the 1960s and 1970s, certainly presents information literacy in a unique and sinister light. As Tobias points out, “Zodiac is a movie awash in information: dates, crimes, locations, suspects, evidence, meaningful connections and red herrings, breakthroughs and setbacks.” When I read that sentence, my “cinema + information literacy” meter started to buzz, and I knew I had to watch the movie again.

Zodiac reminds me of Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), in that both films traffic in the unsettling ambiguities of history. There’s no shortage of information, yet convincing answers remain elusive. In Zodiac, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) searches relentlessly for the identity of the killer, following every lead and obsessing over every detail. Eventually, he seems to find the answer in his own mind, but the film itself (like the actual “Zodiac” case) remains ambiguous: an unsolvable information problem.

Perhaps what has me most interested in the film is the manner in which the pursuit of information/evidence about the killings becomes a disturbing and dangerous addiction for Graysmith and some of the other characters. The ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards suggest that information literacy “enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.” However, information literacy practices in Zodiac lead primarily to confusion and powerlessness.

Graysmith, Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), and David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) become increasingly isolated from friends, family, and co-workers; they are unable to live a normal life, contaminated by what I’m tempted to call information sickness. This is the practice of information literacy as futile obsession, as characters become lost in, to borrow another phrase from the ACRL Standards, “the uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information.” Given Zodiac’s subject matter—murder, fear, paranoia—the lack of certainty is chilling. The characters are no longer self-directed; rather, the information directs them into a kind of bleak ambiguity. Okay, so it’s not exactly a cheery film.

In any case, I could certainly imagine this being a good choice for a semester-long information literacy course, especially in terms of discussing the complexities or limits of information literacy, as well as the anxieties of information seeking.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Everything is a Remix

Just stumbled upon this 4-part series of videos I saw posted on the Infolit e-mail discussion list. The 3rd of the series was just published, the 4th is upcoming. The videos explore the idea of creativity being a process of building upon or adapting existing media, not a magical "new" product.

These seem like an excellent place to start a discussion with students about their writing process, both in research, using sources, and properly citing them. I imagine it would also be useful to calm some anxiety about writing.

The first video mostly examines the idea of popular music copying from its predecessors, in sometimes very blatant ways.

The second video focuses on remixes that occur in film.

The third video delves into the concept of copying, aka, the art of creativity. This is my favorite so far.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles"

9:05 minutes

 A TED talk about how the corporate side of the social net is helping to feed us only the information it thinks we want - based on our choices. What does this mean about using search engines like Google to get "objective" information? How does this differ from information offered up in databases subscribed to by libraries for their patrons?

A transcript is available on the site. 

"As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there's a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy." (From the TED site)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Colbert and Wikipedia

Stephen Colbert's done a number of humorous "The Word" segments on Wikipedia. For a few years I and others working with a set of library assignments/presentations used one called Wikiality in which Colbert encouraged people to update the Wikipedia page on elephants to claim their population is increasing. It's a funny take on the "reality" of Wikipedia entries.

However, a few political jokes became dated as we moved into a new presidential administration.

I recently switched to a slightly newer (with fewer political references) segment called Wikilobbying in which he mentions Microsoft paying people to make favorable Wikipedia entries. In a way, I like this one better because it also adds in the issue of bias to a discussion of all of the issues related to web resources.

Students seem to like both videos. I've previously used a web page or two that contained bad information...but frankly, they didn't get the same laughter and one of the pages disappeared. I'm crossing my fingers that the video I'm using now stays put.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Information Overload

In terms of information overload, even scholarly information overload, I really appreciate the commercials for this recognition.
I believe this is a true anxiety for students first and foremost and for anyone alive today, living in this world of blogs, and newspapers and websites and books and more book, and articles, and email and internet and more books, etc. etc. etc., whether looking at bunk or peer-reviewed articles there is just so much to consider. Until young scholars have a better grasp at searching and limiting and narrowing down specific topics many of them might feel much like the characters in these commercials as they embark on a research topic, especially if they consult a random search engine. In particular, this phenomena is also talked about in the article "Is Google Making Us Stupid" by Nicolas Carr.