Be All and Goog-All

A new study is indicating that students trust Google too much – assigning it too much trust to it’s ranking algorithm. I frankly don’t see the problem with this, seeing as trust is crucial to Google’s ranking scheme – Google is based on reputation. So the results you get have to be somewhat right otherwise you’ll turn somewhere else, that was the problem with Altavista and other search engines circa 1997, the ranking schemes weren’t trustworthy. It seems to me that the authors of the study might have missed that point, or maybe the brief didn’t spell out that issue in full detail (being brief and all). Of course people trust Google, it’s right most of the time. What the article should be looking at is if it’s the correct answer. It would be interesting if in this data if Google did return unreliable results… that might be useful. Seeing as Google’s main factors in ranking are essentially crowdsourced, it might be some evidence of the wisdom of crowds.

After a bit of searching, and looking at the previous works of the author, it seems that despite previous knowledge of the subject, that she’s missed a big piece of the puzzle. In the previous piece she’s dismissed that search engine use has been generally measured by folks like Danny Sullivan who’s been tracking that sort of information for years. If you cross reference Sullivan’s work with the two or three other measuring sticks and the reported use from the sites themselves you get a good picture that Sullivan is pretty close with his findings. Again, trust built up over years of work, I trust Sullivan’s results. Lots of other people do as well, there’s a reason he’s the guy to go to when you want numbers about the web.

The premise is correct though, people need to be more critical about the media they’re consuming and sure there’s a slippery slope concerning the dominant culture overwriting less dominating culture (specifically cultures that have a minimal web presence). Just seems that the issue could’ve been dealt with deeper. It’ll be interesting to read the study when it becomes available.

What If….

In the spirit of the old Marvel comics, What If… series, I bring you:

What if Bloom’s Taxonomy is right?

Well, first a brief primer in Bloom’s. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a tiered structure, like a staircase, that illustrates increasingly complex or difficult cognitive tasks, particularly in an educational setting. At the bottom is Knowledge (knowing the facts) and scaling up to Evaluation (the ability to weigh several arguments, select the best option and defend that selection). In between there are steps that build on the previous one. There are criticisms of Bloom’s, including many arguments about how learning is not sequential and the semantic framing of Bloom’s steps.

What if Bloom had it wrong for learning but right for evolution? On pages 6-18 of the new Pew Report on the Future of the Internet (PDF), people responded to whether or not Google is making us smarter. I think if you apply this transformation to Bloom’s, you see that we’re skipping from Knowledge and Comprehension on Bloom’s scale to something higher, likely Application. The danger, of course, is if we ignore the the critical consumption part of the equation. We no longer have to evaluate the information we receive, but the source of the information. If the source is trustworthy, then it is likely that the information is trustworthy. If we are unable to make this evaluation in a split second, then we are destined for Idiocracy.