Apathy, technology, searching, and names

Happy Friday! Isn’t it just lovely that it is Friday and the start of a three day weekend? I am ready for a break. Today’s post is a bit of a hodge-podge of stuff; in a way, it’s kind of how my brain has been feeling this week–lots of disparate pieces of information swirling around that I’m trying to make sense of and put in some kind of logical matrix. But never fear, The Waki Librarian will make as much sense as possible in this Friday’s post. Allons-y!

Since we are getting close to the start of fall quarter at my institution, I have been thinking a lot about apathy. I worry about apathetic students and how to combat apathy when I’m teaching. While not specifically on teaching, Seth Godin’s post, Better than nothing (is harder than you think), still rang true for me in regards to teaching which may sound weird at first because Godin was writing about sales, but bear with me. If I’m competing against my students’ apathy or even worse, actual disdain, towards the course I teach, then I have be such a great teacher and guide that I can pull them out of their apathetic stupor and into the realm of learning. And this is a serious and quite a large task, but it’s also the fun bit of teaching. (It’s also nice when I get students that are genuinely excited about learning and are curious people, but the real challenge is the apathetic ones.)

But enough on apathy, check this post of Godin’s, the blizzard of noise (and the good news) leads right into the Lifehacker post on why technology is so addictive, and how you can avoid tech burnout. Don’t go over to the dark side of technology! Resist the addiction and go talk to someone, in person. (Yes, I know, it’s a crazy idea, but go do it anyway.)

While you are talking with someone (face to face, naturally) you can ask them if they know about having free access to SAGE journals through October 15th? This is definitely information to share with your library patrons.

And while you’re out there meeting new people, please, please, please read and take to heart this article on how to remember people’s names. It really is true that having someone remember your name is fantastic and having someone screw up your name is like listening to nails on a chalkboard (or that horrible dying noise your computer makes right before it gives you the blue screen of death). It is especially annoying when, as Philip Guo wrote, people spell your name incorrectly in an email after they have to type your name in your email address. (I speak from experience. And no, telling me that Diane is close to Diana and I shouldn’t get upset is not helping your case. Also, trust the advice on avoiding nicknames.)

I really appreciated the tips in the article because I’m not naturally good at remembering names, but when you teach you have to remember a lot of names quickly so I’ve gotten much better. Plus, remembering my students’ names is just one more way to demonstrate that I’m not apathetic about teaching. And, if nothing else, it is common courtesy to remember and to get a person’s name correct in conversation and in writing. So take a couple extra seconds and cement the name in your memory the next time you meet someone new.

Speaking of teaching, have you seen Sweet Search: A Search Engine for Students? My question is: is this really helpful for our students? Or is this just a stop-gap measure and a substitute for teaching students to develop critical evaluation skills? Life doesn’t come at a person pre-screened and evaluated. Part of the learning process is figuring out who’s a charlatan and a quack and who is actually sharing factual, helpful information–be it online or in person. It reminds me of the quote from Don Marquis that says, “If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you. But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.” So are we getting our students to think they’re thinking by using a “better,” vetted search engine and therefore they will throw evaluation out the window? Are we playing into apathy about learning the hard and sometimes time-consuming ability to discern valuable information out of the “surplus of digital data” that Godin writes about? Or, is Sweet Search actually a better way to have students interact with the web? I’m not sure about the answer and would like to hear your thoughts on it.

Oh, and a PS to the post on privacy, a judge with common sense says cellphone tracking is as intrusive as a GPS tracker. I love to see that common sense hasn’t been supplanted by the lure of shiny technology.

Finally, enjoy “Simon’s Cat in ‘The Box'”:

Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget to read something fun.

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