Our work this semester had led us to these final two weeks where we begin to put it all together. Let's review for a bit.
In our first module, we studied search. In this module, we learned how to search academic databases, and how to use thesauri, controlled vocabulary, and Boolean logic to search within those databases. We also studied search engines. We spent a lot of our time watching those Google videos and learning how to be better at using Google to search, but we also covered DuckDuckGo as an alternate search engine. Many of you were appreciative of DuckDuckGo because it provided the ability to hide advertisements, which you said can be distracting when you're trying to focus on you work, or use only advertisements that don't track, which can be helpful in protecting privacy. We finished this module with a discussion on evaluating and managing search results.
Becoming good information finders is only part of the solution to becoming better at personal knowledge management. That is, once we become better at search and have begun accumulating sources, we often need a way to better our ability to save and organize those sources for later use---otherwise we simply waste effort or repeat previous work. Thus, in our second module, we focused on managing academic and non-academic sources, and it was in this module that we learned about bibliographic reference managers and the use of tagging sources to organize them.
In our third module, we visited specific kinds of sources (like census.gov and American Factfinder, among others)---from the general-interest to the specific. The point of this module was to acquaint us with the specific kinds of information sources that exist out there in the wild---these are sources that are often hidden from search engines because the data they hold is buried. And because the information is buried that we often say that many of these sources are a part of the deep web since they're not easy for search engines to use and access them. The point is, that, if we do not become familiar with specific kinds of sources out on the web and totally rely on search engines, then we'll only every recover a portion of the information we may need when conducting thorough information queries.
Our last module is dedicated to personalizing information and it addresses the question: how do we take what we've searched for, and what we've saved and managed, etc., on the sites we may need that are buried in the deep web, and personalize that? How do we take notes on this process, how do we annotate those sources for ourselves and for a social world, how do we organize it?
It's these questions that I want you to think about in this second to the last week of our class, and they all boil down to this question: how do we develop an information and knowledge work flow---a work flow that begins with searching databases and using search engines, to managing and organizing the sources that we want to save, to visiting specific databases that exist outside those well-worn areas that search engines rely too much on, and to taking notes on and annotating those sources to save and share the ideas and thoughts we have about them for later use?
Given this final question for the semester, we have two readings. One reading is a simple LifeHacker article on the Trello web app. You do not have to create an account on Trello, but I do want you to think about what this app does and what it and others like it promises and enables (there are other, similar information work flow apps out there, and feel free to look for them.)
The second article, by Jones and others, is a bit more scholarly and focuses on what the experts think are good and bad personal information practices and tools. In this article, the authors used the Delphi Method to assemble a group of experts together and figure out what the evidence says are the most important and efficient information practices as well as the information practices that are not good or helpful. I'm going to leave discussion about this open and ask---what do you think of their results and findings? You'll have to look closely at the results section of this article to discuss this.