Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good Enough?

I just revisited the Slate article entitled, "A Librarian's Worst Nightmare." I had been hanging on to a print copy of it for some time--waiting for a moment to comment on it. That time is now.

It talks about the demise of Google Answers and the rise of Yahoo! Answers. The author gives the following simile and reflection:
[Yahoo! Answers] has the same value as listening to two random guys at a bar talk about what to do if you are driving during a tornado.
You may not learn very much by eavesdropping—and you certainly
shouldn't trust what you hear if disaster strikes—but that isn't really
the purpose. The lesson Yahoo! Answers teaches is that, for millions of
people on the Web, it's less important to get a good answer than to get
someone to listen to your question in the first place. [emphasis added]
Reading over it again, I was reminded of OCLC's (and I'm sure other's) reports regarding information seeker behavior. Specifically, our profession's concern over whether "good enough" in the age of instant answers is detrimental to research quality.

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