Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.

Convenience Trumps Quality: How Digital Natives Use Information

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Written by Derek Law

This new breed of information user doesn't simply want everything made simple. They have a quite different value structure. On the one hand they want choice, being much less clear that there is right information and wrong information, but at the same time they want selectivity. They want instant results and instant gratification because a fundamental tenet is that convenience trumps quality. They want just enough to complete the task in hand - not complete or perfect. So it has to be cheap, fast and good. Both information and technology have to be mobile and available anytime, any place, anywhere.

Such users expect research to be easy and feel they can be independent in the process. They don't seek help from librarians and only occasionally from teachers or peers. As a result, when they can't find what they need, they give up and assume that the information cannot be found. Students often stop after their initial searches thinking they have completed the research process and fail to choose a particular focus. If it's not on the Web, it doesn't exist. Access to full text articles seems to have changed students' cognitive behaviour. Instead of having to read through material at the library, they can now download material at their desks. They do not have to take notes or read through them to develop themes and ideas, an activity central to a focused research project, because electronic articles enable cutting and pasting, almost certainly leading to increased plagiarism - although I suspect that this is done through ignorance more often than malice.

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