Information is Not Sacred

Hello. Jeff Nowak here. I am a first-year library school nube who got into this whole library thing because I was a literature freak and a book fiend. I am currently the editor of something called Any Four Words.

What amazes me about our Web, Library, or Catchphrase 2.0 era is the game it plays with information. The 19th and 20th century public library phenomenon helped take the book off its pedestal by opening up its shelves to the proles. When large amounts of people really started putting books to use, it suddenly dawned on these people that books were to be used. Not stored, not cherished. Used. John Cotton Dana (one of my favorite people) could dare to say, “A book is not a sacred thing.” And today the same thing is happening to information. When a person can find out how to get where he’s going without having to open up a road map, and when he can then add notes and pictures to his itinerary for everyone to see, cartographic information is no longer a far-off Mystery but something he can cut up, manipulate, and distribute to his heart’s content. Information is no longer sacred material to be stored, cherished, and hoarded by a professional elite. It is to be used.

So what does this mean? If audio information can be freely shared from person to person (DRM be damned), what does it mean when people buy music because they want to support the band and not because they have no choice but to pony up the dough to the professionals of the music industry? What does it mean when people can manipulate their own personal information to create entire pseudo-selves who exist only so that those people can say and do what they want without professional or familial repercussion? What happens when false information (which can be honestly defended so long as you call it fiction) holds just as much sway as information the experts know to be true? What will be the result when people use information?
Damned if I know. I’m barely into my first year of this stuff. I’ll have to let the professionals figure that out.

3 thoughts on “Information is Not Sacred”

  1. I want to know if I am alone in hating Graphic Novels for students. Perhaps I am too “old school”, but have we not “dumbed dowm ” children enough. WIth this new influx of Spanish it is so important to get an English Speaking dialog going, not looking at comics.

  2. Sandi-

    Part of the draw of graphic novels in the classroom is inherent engagement level that is tied to them. Put Maus next to an open copy of Old Man and the Sea and, I would venture to guess, students will always reach for Maus. I think the English speaking dialogue you’re searching for will arise out of the conversations that are tied to the issues within the graphic novel. Yes, simply reading a graphic novel might not promote the literacy level that you’re searching for – but the conversations may be more beneficial.


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