rusq: Vol. 51 Issue 1: p. 85
Sources: The Google Generation: Are ICT Innovations Changing Information-Seeking Behaviour?
Susan Hopwood

Susan Hopwood, Outreach Librarian, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This book is based on “The Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future,” a research project funded by the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the latter a UK agency supporting higher education research. The three authors are mass communications and information studies academics affiliated with the University of Leicester (Gunter) and University College London (Nicholas and Rowlands). It is clear that two decades of rapid change in information and communication technologies (ICT) have changed the way people communicate, conduct business, and gather news. The basic focus of this project was to determine the significance of these changes for higher education, specifically how they affect student learning and whether teaching methods and the role of libraries will also have to change. In other words, to what degree have older information sources been supplanted and has the Internet engendered new information-seeking behavior?

The authors focused on what they call the Google Generation, born 1994 and later—one generation younger than the Ys, born between 1978 and 1993—and they carefully document pre-Internet and early Internet behaviors, such as viewing television, reading books, and reading or watching news, and the rise of what they call the “information society.” Their fourth chapter examines the evidence for the concept of the Google Generation, considers the defining characteristics of Web 2.0 tools and technologies, and finds a higher degree of user literacy among the Google Generation than in older research subjects. Learning styles of the Google Generation have a more social orientation through the encouragement of group work via blogs and wikis. The fifth and sixth chapters examine the implications of new technology in the distribution of content and the emergence of digital scholarship, while examining implications for librarians. One of the more interesting parts of the research focuses on commonly held assumptions about the Google Generation (e.g., their preference for visual information, their ability to multitask, and their impatience with delay) and examines the research literature for each.

Although this report has a research-based component, it depends heavily on an exhaustive review of the literature. The 30-page bibliography cites studies published between 1979 and 2008. A review of the literature would have to include more recent reports from EDUCAUSE, OCLC, ACRL, Pew, and others. Details of this project and associated reports may be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/research/ciber/downloads.



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