Magazine article Online

Can I Facebook That?

Magazine article Online

Can I Facebook That?

Article excerpt

I had one of those geeky informational "ah-ha" moments the other day. A swarm of bees has taken up residence under the eaves of my house, and I went through all the bee removal listings in the phone book trying to find someone willing to remove "my" swarm, for a handsome fee. I knew I was in real trouble when one of the bee removal guys advised me to "just Google" Colorado beekeepers ... surely, I would find someone that way.

It turns out that--surprise!--most beekeepers do not have Web sites. They usually have another job that pays the bills, and they keep bees on the side. I eventually found the site of the Boulder County Beekeepers' Association, who, in turn, connected me to a person at the local agricultural extension office, who gave me names of people who might be willing to come out and collect my bees. Had I simply tried to Google the answer, I would have been out of luck; the path to the answer lay in finding someone who knew someone who knows bees.

This got me thinking about how information seeking has changed over time. When an exterminator who admits he does not own a computer advises me to Google the information, I know that the It's-All-On-The-Web-For-Free syndrome has permeated our society. The basic assumptions about how to find information have shifted. Those of us who are on the far side of 40 (who am I kidding? the far side of 50!) remember using libraries to find information. We would consult the card catalog, not expecting to find the answer in the cards but rather to be pointed to a book or another source in which the answer might be found. When we got desperate, we would ask a librarian, who would walk us over to the appropriate resource.

Those early experiences colored our attitudes toward finding stuff out and, while we now incorporate the Web into our research toolbox, we still work from the Zen-like assumption that we must search not for the answer but for something that leads us to the answer. Hence my Google search for the local beekeepers' association.

On the other hand, members of the millennial generation, those born roughly between 1980 and 2000, have always had access to the Web; they probably selected their colleges by going online. As a result, when they look for information, millennials work from the assumption that they will be able to find it on the Web. In fact, they probably Google it from their phones. If the answer isn't online, you're asking the wrong question. …

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