The “tradition” of search is a relatively new one—certainly less than a decade old. Hard as it is to believe, it is only in the last couple of years that you can type whatever you are looking for into a little box and, wherever you happen to be, get all the information the world offers for free on that subject. The quantity of information is unbelievable. However the quality of that information is, in most cases, not particularly well-indicated.
Which is why we have “research”—a whole different animal from “search.”
important one, and was established precisely for the purpose of determining the “quality” of information. The research tradition encompasses why and how we cite our sources, what sources are considered “primary” versus “secondary,” what types and sources of information are considered more reliable, trustworthy or accurate, and many other things.
If our students don’t know or understand these differences it’s our job as educators to make sure they do. Kids need to know that while search involves just looking, research involves a whole discipline of behaviors. (What those behaviors are, if you don’t already know, can be found easily via search ☺ )
So far so good. However…
Assuming we ever did, we no longer live in clear-cut times. We live, rather, in blurry, super-fast-changing times. One of the most important things for all of us, young and old, to learn and do in these times and circumstances is to figure out how to continually adapt our ideas (and get used to the idea of adapting them)—even those that have long traditions behind them—to new conditions and technologies that emerge. The Wikipedia is only the first of a great many changes to come. But it’s a good place to begin to start thinking differently.