by Danielle Salomon, Southern California Chapter, Business & Finance Division
To be future-ready, we need to look at the way young people are using information. If we examine the attitudes and behaviors surrounding the use of information by young people, it becomes clear that many of the existing standards in our field will be challenged. For example, in Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media, author Carrie James tells the story of Daniel, a high-school senior who contributes to Wikipedia and uses one of his entries in a school paper:
After reading Daniel’s paper, his teacher calls him into her office and accuses him of plagiarism, noting that he used verbatim lines from Wikipedia without giving proper credit to the source. Daniel replies that since he was a contributor to the Wikipedia article, his use does not constitute plagiarism…Above all, he asserts, the purpose of Wikipedia is to make knowledge available for widespread use. It does not provide the names of article authors, and he will not be cited by others for his contributions. In fact, authorship is irrelevant.
The rise of collaborative authorship, distributed scholarship, and participatory communities is creating differences in the way young people think about authorship and ownership, and their expectations with respect to use and attribution. Some of the legal and ethical standards that apply to the use of information today are likely to change in the near future to reflect how users are participating in the new media landscape. In the midst of this changing environment, information professionals need to take the lead in developing new standards, instead of focusing solely on enforcing existing standards. Information professionals are uniquely qualified to shape the public policy debate on these issues, and craft policies that reflect how users use information, while still protecting core values such as access, equality, and intellectual freedom. We need to work with younger generations of users to advocate for standards that foster education, support the advancement of scholarship, encourage innovation, and protect intellectual property.
Danielle Salomon is an MLIS student in the UCLA Department of Information Studies. She is a soon-to-be, newly-minted information professional and a leader in the school.