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Myths about the Information Age

May 10, 2011

Recently, the Chronicle posted a wonderful opinion piece titled, 5 Myths About the ‘Information Age’, by Harvard’s chief librarian, Robert Darnton. With the recent release of the movie “Thor” I thought a little mythology would be timely. Darnton’s five myths include “The book is dead” and “Libraries are obsolete.” Rather than myths, another way we might think of these phrases is “misleading media hype” (though some would consider that redundant).

Darnton’s myths are pithy bits of verbage which the media toss around as a way of making something sound scary, intellectual, or high-tech. Argue with these ideas and we run the risk of appearing careless, backwards or out of touch. If I disagree with the statement “All information is now available online” Joe Six-pack may label me ignorant, but Darnton correctly points out that this myth is absurd.

There are similar myths about students and computers (see How tech-smart are your students?). I’d love to hear from readers about their favorite myths – perhaps something about faculty use of technology?

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