TILT-y Mail #24— Can we innovate our way out of ignorance?

libraries inoculate against fake, satire, conspiracy, bias, junksci


I gave a talk at the Knight Foundation Library Innovation Prototype grant kick-off event this week. Harvard’s Library Innovation Lab was the host. It was two days full of networking and learning how innovation happens. I have complicated feelings about innovation and my talk (PDF) reflected that.


modified Banksy by Rebecca McCorkindale

Open eBooks was my main example; amazing-sounding project that dropped off the map after a high profile launch. I assume it’s working, but it’s a shame we’ve heard nothing public about it. Its successes could have been our successes. Instead, like many grant-funded projects, there was money for a showy kickoff and very little for ongoing support or promotion. That is, no promotion outside of their social media streams which are going great guns but … is the Open eBooks’ target demo on Twitter?
 
 So I warned the prototypers about this type of thing, and about the risks of innovating in public. Most of them seemed to get it. Some of them were clearly there trying to find any revenue stream for their projects despite having little to no library knowledge. I heard one winner exclaim how surprised he was to find that elementary schools had libraries! ಠ_ಠ We had a nice chat afterwards and I suggested some resources for him.

As I said in my talk, it’s been a tough month and I am in a MOOD. Many of us are.

This image was created by Scott Walter. He’s put it up in the EveryLibrary store on Cafe Press. He is running for ALA President and I support him as much as a non-ALA member can.

A couple of good old fashioned copyright links that I’ve been holding on to. One potentially very good, and one maybe not so good.

Projects that people have been working on post-election have been coming to fruition. Some good ones:

Head shaker of the week is ProQuest’s GradShare blog, publishing an article telling students to use a paid essay-writing service (essay mill) as part of a strategy to avoid plagiarism.

Amusingly the full article was swiped by another blog so you can still read it even though ProQuest has taken it down. Their apology was underwhelming and sounds suspiciously like they got scammed by someone getting paid to do SEO for essay mills. This is the LinkedIn page for the essay writer who is self-employed as a “digital marketing expert” and “content marketing specialist”. His GradShare bio said otherwise: a qualified educator, author and scholar. He is experienced in classroom teaching, training teachers and leaders, coaching schools and advising academic researchers. Really?
 
 This type of scam is actually another variant of the Fake News Problem. People try to leapfrog off of others’ reputations to promote their own shady dealings, whether it’s hyping a service or electing a president. Understanding SEO (search engine optimization) as well as link and content farming are an important part of media literacy and one that librarians and library-adjacent folks aren’t always that savvy with.

This link is good for a daily image of resistance. Hang in there and keep doing your good works.

TILT-Y MAIL is written irregularly by Jessamyn West who also maintains librarian.net. It’s also available in your inbox via TinyLetter. Thanks for reading.