Crap Detection 101(.2)*


First things first: The search


The "visible" Web: The stuff search engines can find. Websites of all stripes and origins, low-brow to high-brow, flaky to highly credible.

The "invisible" Web: The stuff that is (mostly) hidden from search engines -- proprietary information, databases, etc. See the Uni High Library website for examples of these.

What helps students:
Asking them to use a variety of search tools to find a range of high quality information that meets the needs of the assignment.

What confuses students:
Asking them to find "x number of print sources and x number of online sources." With a few exceptions, the distinction between formats has become fairly meaningless.

Google and beyond...

From the Google Images search page, conduct an advanced search to find images labeled for reuse that can also be modified.
Try Blekko for a spam-free search experience.
Or SweetSearch, a search engine for students.

Evaluation


Elements of Website Evaluation (Computer Literacy class guide)

Try it yourself! (the following examples are from this exercise)

1. Fair Cell Phone Use in Schools
Who is the author of this article and what are her credentials?
How do people get articles published on this site?
Under what circumstances would you use this article? Under what circumstances do you think it would be better to use another source (like a database)?

2. Chocolate at Heart: The Anti-Inflammatory Impact of Cocoa Flavanols
Whose site is this? What is the mission of the organization?
Do you think this site is an authoritative source of information on the nutritional value of chocolate?

3. The Institute for Historical Review
What is the purpose of this site?
What clues might make you think it is an authoritative source of information?
What clues might make you think it is not an authoritative source of information?
What is your conclusion? Is the site an authoritative source or not?

4. Nicotine: A Physical Challenge
Whose site is this?
What is the mission of the organization?
What persuasion techniques do you see in action here?
Where else might you look to find information about nicotine addiction?

Whodunnit? (the following examples are from this exercise):

1. Here's a site you find on teaching creationism in public schools
Who (or what) is responsible for authoring this site?
Where does this section of the site actually start?
What is the purpose of the organization?

2. You find this site while doing research on endangered species:
What type of website is this?
Who is the author of this entry?
Where did this information originally come from?
And where did those people get the information?
If you wanted to cite original research information, which source would you actually cite?

3. Your search engine takes you to this site on women and the military
What kind of document is this?
What publication does this document appear in?
What type of publication is it (website, journal, book, newspaper...)?
Who publishes it and what is the mission (including bias or point of view) of this publisher?


[*] With apologies to Howard Rheingold