Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Change of Ownership

A group of frustrated students prompted a teacher to write:

I have struggled mightily to find a Publisher for Wingsupply.com.  Nothing I can find is accepted as the correct answer by the website.  My students are very frustrated as well.  Please advise how to find this information and also where to go for an answer key.

This makes a better--but harder--search than the original (found here under Who Owns It?: http://21cif.com/rkitp/challenge/evaluation/publisher.swf)
Here's my response:
I'm glad you wrote. Better than being frustrated! There's a lesson for students in this: when you can't find the information you want, try a different source--in this case you went to the author. Well done.

You probably found the right information. I just did the search and the store seems to have changed hands.  It used to be owned by a family. Now it's owned by a larger business. Here are the results from a domain name registry search using GoDaddy:  https://who.godaddy.com/  (this provides more detail than a Whois.net search)

Registry Domain ID: 3379187_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Update Date: 2014-12-05 18:15:04
Creation Date: 1998-02-27 00:00:00
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2018-02-26 00:00:00
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@godaddy.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.480-624-2505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: John De Marco
Registrant Organization: Brandshopper, LP
Registrant Street: PO Box 20211
Registrant City: Lehigh Valley
Registrant State/Province: Pennsylvania
Registrant Postal Code: 18002
Registrant Country: United States
Registrant Phone: +1.6108375940
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: johnjdemarco@gmail.com

Aha, A new owner--I'll have to update the answer key!
If you go back a couple of years and look at the same site using archive.org, your students will see a different address for the store: 
https://web.archive.org/web/20120112100913/http://www.wingsupply.com/  Students could use archive.org to determine when the store changed ownership (it changed sometime this year).  It's also possible to find information about the change of ownership by querying 
wingsupply change ownership
Aren't you glad you asked?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Information Fluency Doesn't Stop With Retrieval

Looking for a hallmark case of consuming unreliable information?

The company that NYC hired to clean up the ebola-infected apartment of a Dr. there turned out to be a scam. Here's a sample article from the Daily News: http://www.dailynews724.com/politics/how-new-york-city-hired-a-con-artist-to-clean-up-ebola-h309372.html

Once information is obtained, by retrieval, observation, word of mouth, etc., it's very tempting to treat it as reliable. In this case, the company's Chief Safety Officer surrounded himself with media to make it appear he was trustworthy.

It always pays to fact check.

How about googling the Chief Safety Officer's name and the name of the company?  Had someone queried

sal pane biorecovery

before the problems finally became public there wouldn't be a long history of the company. Yet Mr. Pane made the following claim: "For the past 27 years the company’s been around..."

The red flag that prompted suspicion came when officials identified Mr. Pane as a convicted felon. Another red flag: The company appears to have been in existence for 16 years.

Can you find more?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Searching Myth Exposed (again)

It's not true: growing up digital makes one an effective digital searcher.

We've stated this before in our book, Teaching Information Fluency, and now it comes from another source: Google.

Here's an article covering Dan Russell's (senior researcher at Google) talk at Strathclyde University: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/great-internet-age-divide-is-a-myth.25672713

The solution starts with teachers.

Research needs to be included in the curriculum.

"Knowing how to frame a question, pose a query, how to interpret the texts you find, how to organize and use the information you discover are all critical parts of being literate...."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More Study Welcome

Last week a group of moderate Democrat legislators signed a letter directed to the head of the National Academy of Sciences to study "digital literacy among pre-kindergarten through high school students and the types of digital education programs that are being deployed in schools." source

Among the notable points:
  • 2013: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) finds that American young adults ranked near the bottom for using digital skills to solve problems, including skills to acquire and evaluate information;
  • Appropriate policies and measures need to be put in place to tackle this disparity through pre-K to Grade 12 education programs;
  • Five aspects of digital literacy are highlighted for study:
    • define skills and abilities that comprise 'digital literacy'
    • summarize current levels of digital literacy across grades, ethnicity, SES and location
    • characterize the range of program currently available to help students in preK-12
    • review and synthesize research on effectiveness of digital education programs
    • recommend federal, state and local policies to reduce gaps in abilities and educational offerings
More study, especially from the top, is welcome and overdue. Without policies, gaps will persist. Hopefully best practices in digital information literacy will become more widespread as a result.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Five Surprises regarding Information Literacy

EBSCO just published its "surprising" findings regarding college students' information literacy, or as I like to call it, information fluency competencies. This is an indication of what research skills students are taught (or not) in high school and what sticks.

Surprise 1: Grade Nine Bootcamp is the one that sticks. A positive correlation was found between what and how students are taught about research in their freshman year of high school and how they conducted research in college. Ninth grade is viewed as a "critical period" for training.

Surprise 2:  Lazy doesn't mean Slothful.  Students value and practice efficient practices--there's only so much time for research.

Surprise 3: Wikipedia--The Open Secret.  Even though professors warn against using it, students typically depend on Wikipedia anyway.

Surprise 4: When I need Help I ask my Friend.  They tend not to ask a librarian even though they are aware that librarians are available to help. If their friend remembers anything from ninth grade bootcamp, all the better.

Surprise 5: The Calculations that go into Evaluating Results. Student seldom go beyond the first page of Google results and use the bold keywords as a test to whether they should invest time skimming an abstract.

Not-so Surprising Conclusions:
  1. Students are comfortable with technology, but are by no means expert searchers.
  2. Students need significant support to perform college-level research
Read the complete article here: http://user-94545020520.cld.bz/Strategic-Library-October-2014#10/z

Friday, October 17, 2014

Email Spam

source: photobucket
Information Fluency applies to more than academic research.

Here's an example of a spam email that could trip up an unsuspecting friend, especially if the circumstances were right.

I happen to know that my friend Fred is not currently in the Philippines. But if I didn't know that or, worse yet, knew that he was visiting there, I might be less skeptical and more willing to help.

Here's the email, which I assume has been going around the Internet for some time:

Good Morning,

I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in Philippines for Tour. The program was successful, but our journey has turned sour. we misplaced our wallet and cell phone on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had. Now, our Luggage is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment. all we have left are just our Passports. I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a short term loan from you ($2,600). this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest.

All hopes on you


Interestingly, Fred is the type of person who would sign Peace. This could be a coincidence, but the day is coming when spammers who know something about us, including if we're on a trip, will certainly take advantage of that information.

The conclusive investigative technique I used to verify that this was not the Fred I know (who uses better grammar than this) was to compare the email addresses.  The From email was in fact Fred's. The Reply to was not, but eerily close: an additional letter had been added to the name, as in this example:

original:  ftxyx@yahoo.com   close copy:  ftxyyz@yahoo.com

It pays to check email addresses.

If you have examples to share (even with other solutions), post them here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A New Framework for Fluency?

This article caught my eye today:

Reimagining Information Literacy Competencies 
Posted On July 29, 2014

'The task force was charged with updating the information literacy competency standards for higher education “so that they reflect the current thinking on such things as the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the changing global higher education and learning environment, the shift from information literacy to information fluency, and the expanding definition of information literacy to include multiple literacies, e.g., transliteracy, media literacy, digital literacy, etc.”'

Full article

The higher education community has always been at the forefront of the information "literacy" movement. This new thinking represents new challenges for high schools, middle schools and elementary schools to redefine how they prepare students for college and personally motivated research.

One wonders if it will renew interest in information preparedness in primary and secondary schools, and how.