Well that was a sobering read.
A few weeks ago the following post by Barbara Fister was circulated at MPOW: Lizard People in the Library. We were supposed to have a discussion about it, but I wasn't able to make the Zoom time, so I didn't read it then. Yesterday someone pointed out that the original post had been adapted for an article in The Atlantic, so I went and read The Librarian War Against QAnon, and then read the first one. While they're essentially the same article, they're different enough that they're both worth reading. And re-reading. Damn.
There are so many quotes I want to pull, but here are some of the most powerful ones to me.
How did we get here if we've been teaching information literacy for our entire careers?
While school-based efforts to promote information literacy are typically tied to producing information (college papers, digital projects, PowerPoint slide decks), students are not as frequently invited to reflect on how information flows through and across platforms that shape and are shaped by participatory audiences and influencers. They aren’t learning much about how information systems (including radio, print journalism, academic and trade-book publishing, television, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram) make choices about which messages to promote and how those choices intersect with political messaging and the social engineering of interest groups.
Why don't these people see the world the way I do?
Those who spend their time in the library of the unreal have an abundance of something that is scarce in college classrooms: information agency. One of the powers they feel elites have tried to withhold from them is the ability to define what constitutes knowledge. They don’t simply distrust what the experts say; they distrust the social systems that create expertise. They take pleasure in claiming expertise for themselves, on their own terms.
How to these people draw their conclusions?
While it may seem odd to use the phrase “crisis of faith,” we are experiencing a moment that exposes a schism between two groups: those who have faith there is a way to arrive at truth using practices based on epistemology that originated in the Enlightenment, and those who believe events and experiences are portents to be interpreted in ways that align with their personal values.
As Francesca Tripodi has demonstrated, many conservatives read the news using techniques learned through Bible study, shunning secular interpretations of events as biased and inconsistent with their exegesis of primary texts such as presidential speeches and the Constitution.
The future doesn't look bright if things continue the way they are in Alberta:
This failure has many roots: The low social status of teachers and librarians relative to those in other professions, the lack of consistent instruction about information and media literacy across students’ educational experience, the diminishment of the humanities as a core element of general education, and the difficulty of keeping up with technological change and digital culture have all played a role. So has the fact that information literacy has no specific place in the curriculum. It’s everywhere, and nowhere. It’s everyone’s job, but nobody’s responsibility. In many cases, the people who care about it the most—those in academia, journalism, and nonprofits especially—have had their jobs felled by the austerity axe.
I love this description of how things work out there on the internet:
There’s no doubt it will be difficult to shift the information literacy narrative from emphasizing finding, evaluating, and using information in an academic setting to something that addresses a broader understanding of how information “works” these days. Our information systems operate in a complex world in which messages take root in dark corners and spread rhizomatically through connections that are often hidden from view...
There are suggestions for how to proceed. Are you a teacher? Are you in any way involved in academia? Do you wonder how the eff your friends and acquaintances on Facebook and Twitter come to their conclusions? Please read and consider these articles.