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Internet Searching & Evaluating Information

Why search the web? How do you search it? And how do you determine what you've found is reliable? Explore this guide to learn more.

Why is Digital Literacy Important?

Digital literacy is the ability to understand information and--more important--to evaluate and integrate information in multiple formats that the computer can deliver. Being able to evaluate and interpret information is critical [...] you can't understand information you find on the Internet without evaluating its sources and placing it in context.   -Paul Gilster                                                  

Reasons for Using Websites

  • Convenient                                                               
  • Current
  • Fast
  • Access to many free government documents
  • Learn new things
  • Shopping 
  • Entertainment

Information on the Internet

Searching on the web has numerous benefits, but it is important to think critically about the information you find. The beauty of the Internet is that anyone can contribute to it. The downside of the Internet is also that anyone can contribute to it. This means that you can quickly find documents freely shared by the federal government, the rantings and ravings of a guy named, "Joe", or anything in between. 

The trouble with Internet information is often us, the user. When dealing with "fake news" or inaccurate information on the Internet, the creators of untrustworthy information usually rely on the user being too lazy or too ignorant to critically evaluate information sources to determine their credibility. Instead, all too often Internet users blindly accept what they find at face value either due to: unfounded blind trust, laziness, or our own personal biases (aka just because we feel something should be true, doesn't mean something is true). 

No one polices the Internet. The only question the Internet asks is, "do you have the money to keep that website active?" No entity is specifically monitoring the content, let alone on a consistent basis.

The onus of determining quality information sources rests squarely on the shoulders of the Internet user. 

image credit: Huffington Post

Digital Literacy Overview Video

Source: YouTube