Clive Thompson has a piece in Wired Magazine arguing that we should teach kids crap detection on the web.
High school and college students may be “digital natives,” but they’re wretched at searching. In a recent experiment at Northwestern, when 102 undergraduates were asked to do some research online, none went to the trouble of checking the authors’ credentials.
I’m not sure that this is a web-specific problem. I’ve read tons of books that have had me pointing and grrring loudly. “Humans aren’t the only species to have domesticated another! Some species of ants domesticate aphids and milk them for food!”
But I do get his point. Since the barrier to publication is so much lower on the web, it’s “cheaper” to post misinformation or outright lies.
Thompson goes on to suggest:
One can imagine even more entertaining ways to help kids grok the intricacies of the search world. Why not let students start a class blog on a subject and see how long it takes for it to show up in search results?
Cute. I like the idea of teaching about crap detection by generating crap. Lie on a wikipedia entry. Things of that sort.
Is this a necessary web skill that everyone should know? Hmm.