DO use Wikipedia
and other less-likely search literacy tips
In a recent paper for the Library Journal, Francesca Tripodi, joined by Jade Angelique Stevenson, Rachel Slama, and Justin Reich, built and tested search literacy interventions for librarians. The librarians they spoke with argue that improving search engine literacy requires building trusting relationships with patrons. Additionally, Tripodi and her colleagues offer the following search literacy tips for librarians, teachers, and anyone else educating others to combat misinformation:
Use Wikipedia as a starting point. People who use Wikipedia find better answers with greater accuracy in less time than people who don’t.
Don’t judge a site based on its URL. Some .com sites are reliable and some .org sites are misleading! In addition, plenty of nonprofits produce untrustworthy information.
Don’t trust website appearance. Attractive websites don’t always mean high quality information; plain websites are sometimes accurate and helpful
Use lateral reading strategies. The best way to check the quality of a website is by leaving that website. Many people verify sources vertically, by reading About pages and checking the links provided by that website. In contrast, best practice is to distrust your own ability to verify quality of the source and see what others are saying about it across websites (i.e., “lateral reading”).
In addition, this paper provides the following insights for policy makers and technology professionals:
Trust ethnographic research methods. People routinely misreport their search practices, so ethnographic methods provide insight to instructional designers and UX professionals on how the technological affordances and platform design shape information-gathering practices.
Consider mobile first. In rural areas where broadband is limited, people increasingly rely on their phones for information. Mobile designs can shape search practices.
Create a budget for training resources. Instructional resources for librarians will pay dividends in the fight against mis/disinformation.
Chat GPT in Context
Speaking of Wikipedia… in a panel discussion on “ChatGPT in Context,” both Alice Marwick and Heesoo Jang made comparisons between ChatGPT and Wikipedia to help the audience consider how the tool may be used in academic settings.
Large language models reflect the social biases of the material used to train them—including Wikipedia articles. As one example of how tech platforms uphold bias, Marwick discussed Francesca Tripodi’s finding that biographies of women on Wikipedia are more likely to be nominated for deletion than men’s even where they pass the site’s editorial standards for notability.
And concerns that new technology will facilitate plagiarism or offer students shortcuts to doing original research, Jang compared academic concerns about ChatGPT’s to early reactions to Wikipedia.
Marwick and Jang joined Shashank Srivastava of the computer science department and Chat Bryant from history in a conversation that ranged from a brief history of the Luddite movement to the technical capabilities of how large language models might eventually become capable of “citing” their sources.
Publications and appearances
Tressie McMillan Cottom sat down with Carolina Connection, the student radio program at UNC, to discuss why inclusive scholarship matters.
Alice Marwick’s 2013 book Status Update continues to help explain all manner of attention-seeking behavior, from why George Santos won’t resign to how Nigerian “follow-back” practices on Twitter differ from U.S. microcelebrity expectations.
The likely end of free Twitter API access marks a new milestone in the post-API age for research. Deen Freelon noted that the rollout process “could’ve avoided many broken research pipelines.”
February 10: The spring speaker series continues with a panel on Digital Governance in the Global South, featuring Sareeta Amrute and Chinmayi Arun in conversation with Nanditha Narayanamoorthy. Details and registration.
Share the invitation:
February 14-17: The University of Florida’s Frank gathering, where Francesca Tripodi will be participating alongside other amazing speakers. Event information and registration.
March 9 & 10: The virtual QAnon Research Conference. Event information and registration.
May 30, 2023: Release date for Alice Marwick’s The Private Is Political: Networked Privacy and Social Media.
Rest of Web
ICYMI, What Comes After Disinfo is still getting rave reviews: