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Lecture 2

INST 352 Lecture 2: INST352 Lecture 2: Intro continued

Information Studies
Course Code
INST 352

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INST352 Lecture 2: Intro continued
In thinking about this holistic view of people’s worlds, the internet itself could serve as a
metaphor for information behavior and the way our view of it has changed. If you can, think back
to a time before the World Wide Web was available. All of the information was out there in
individual books, journals, radio and TV programs, offices, filing cabinets, minds, and
computers. However, because it was divided by source, by location, by person, and by channel,
it was not always easily located or examined. Making arrangements for travel is one
comprehensive example: One could hear the weather forecast on the radio, read about a
destination in a travel guide, call hotels to make reservations, telephone an airline to learn
departure times and fares, visit a travel agent to pick up a ticket, and so on. In terms of
research, each of those needs and transactions has needed to be conducted (and studied)
separately. Now, it is possible to satisfy all travel related requests on a single website, often with
no direct engagement with other people.
Not only have many different channels of communication collapsed down to one, but less goal-
oriented behaviors, such as browsing, also now play a larger role than ever before. Looking for
information becomes more holistic, with more available choices and greater control on the part
of the individual looking for information. At the same time, the contexts that shape that
information may be more complex; online hotel ads that are posted on an airlines site may not
be comprehensive or complete, but may be the result of formal sponsorship agreements
between companies. The top sites listed in Google may be a mix of paid advertisements,
companies who have paid to have their website appear near the top of the page, or options that
appear due to the geography of the persons computer, based on their IP address.
These behind-the-scene (and even unseen) activities now form part of the complex landscape
that individuals must navigate to find the information they need in todays world. The contrast
between new and old is even greater when we compare tasks in the office and classroom to
their counterparts of 20 years ago. Obscure bits of information the text of a government
regulation, the date of an event, the author of a document are more easily found in a single
place the Web. Both work and education have changed as a result. And yet, conflicting
information, outdated information, and incorrect information remain problematic for individuals
searching for answers.
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