Tip 22: Information Literacy
If you’ve taken the time to do a thorough CRAAP test, as I encouraged in the last Write Side installment, you know that despite the wonders of the World Wide Web, finding useful information is not that easy. Similarly, it can also be difficult to find information you haven’t seen before in at least a half dozen virtual incarnations. So when it comes to producing useful information, consider the need. If you’ve got something to contribute beyond what is currently available, great. If not, guide your clients by linking to the original and/or most credible update. Otherwise, your contribution realistically has negative value in the context of information overload because you are requiring people to weed out yet another information clone.
So how do you objectively assess whether your proposal is different enough to substantiate producing a new publication? Although it doesn’t have the same ring to it as CRAAP, information literacy is the label for an entire field of study, complete with its own standards and guidelines, that was developed to deal with the onslaught of information in today’s society. The American Library Association describes information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed…” [emphasis added]. The application of said abilities is “the solution to data smog,” according to The Association of College and Research Libraries. Check out http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/issues/infolit/index.cfm and http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001570/157020e.pdf for some comprehensive examination.