The New York Times Goes Hollywood
Is the Times conspiring with the forces calling for sinking government money into roads and highways, as opposed to mass transit?
So sayeth the headline to a story about what New Yorkers want the new administration to spend money on. Funny thing is, the quote that the headline was taken from gives a very different impression of what the author wants:
Kinda reminds me of Blurb Racket.
YouTube, the search engine?
This New York Times story about about the use of YouTube as a search engine caught my eye. Apparently, people — particularly kids — are using YouTube as their primary search engine for research projects, news, and other information. The Times paints this trend as the inevitable march of technology but I can't help but see it as the devolution of our collective brain. What we don't get in this story in the fact that defaulting to video-only search is, um, pretty stupid. While I can understand why a 9-year old would do it, you've got to wonder where his teachers are to give him a basic lesson in media literacy: video and text communicate differently and each has its strengths and weaknesses.
To use an example from the article, let's say you need info to do a school paper on the wallaby. A search on YouTube brings up, on the first page, two home movies of people encountering wallabies, a vodka commercial, and kids singing a Raffi song. Even if there was a documentary about wallabies, the student would have to sit, watch, and wait to see if any relevant information appeared. He would then have to transcribe it and check the spelling for any proper nouns or unusual words.
A Google search for "wallaby," however, brings up Wikipedia's wallaby page, a National Geographic factsheet about wallabies, and several other wallaby-relate websites. The information here is laid out clearly, and is easy to scan. The user doesn't have to worry about transcribing or spelling. And several items are hyperlinked in case he wants to find more information about particular points.
Clearly, there are smart uses of YouTube, and it's an essential resource for hunting down TV and video clips but there is no need to uncritically embrace it as a primary source for research.