Monday, March 22, 2010

How is it done? Library Tech research

But how? ... Is it simpler than I imagine?

Jason Griffey (back in September 2009) advised three strategies for researching library tech decisions. If/when I get a turn at bat, will these ideas be useful to me?
  1. Listen to patrons (ie pay attention to the technologies they are using).
    At a combined University/TAFE library, we hear and see that patron technology use is extremely diverse. We have the spectrum from both higher ed and TAFE students who have never used a computer or mobile phone, through to the highly technology savvy. It is to detect the former as they're asking for help.
    But how do we "pay attention" to the technologies the savvy are using, without spying?
    Random chance observations in passing to open/close curtains or provide assistance is surely not reliable as representative data? Perhaps it could be more so if observations could be accumulated from all library staff who pass through the computer commons - but that would require those staff to be able to recognise the variety of web2.0 services that might be used, else the observation data will be skewed.
    Is it possible or appropriate for tech services to tally which internet services are most popular, or is this something that ought to be asked instead?
    I also wonder whether there is an association between extent and type of technology use and the student's (or teacher's) course?

  2. Find out which technologies are most popular in general public.
    Or, at the TAFE, continuing the theme from above: At the same time there may be a difference between courses as to which technologies would be most relevant both during the course and later vocationally. Effective subject liaison may be useful to determine this, and not just with teachers as some students are in advance of teaching staff in uptake of both socially and industry relevant technologies.

  3. Try radical ideas and winnow the ones that fail.
    Sure, this could be useful at the very least for librarians' professional development, although in a TAFE/Higher Ed context I'm guessing that it might be useful to first target the radical ideas which are being tested (if any) by technologically radical teachers, associates or technology personnel.
This was a "just wondering" post in what may become an occasional series of "just in case I get a chance at bat when the children are all grown".

Friday, March 12, 2010

How to cite a game in APA style

edited 1 April 2010
Until now the answer to that question was not here; until now my presence in search results on that question would have stemmed from the fact that I have written in separate posts about both citing and games. And I don't like people to leave with their questions unanswered.

Now, below, I have an answer. BUT: before you use it, check the requirements of the professor or publication for whom you are writing. Please, if you've come here for an answer to the question, please comment with the game you are considering citing and perhaps in what context so I can check my suggestions, and improve them.

While the Publication Manual (APA, 2010) does not give a specific example for citing games, it outlines principles and the basic components. Chuck at APA's blog outlined these entertainingly as Who When What Where in The Generic Reference. The manual also advises us to adapt the examples that are provided as we need. This point is repeated by Timothy McAdoo in The Frankenreference, also at APA's blog.

Jump to:
Suggested format & examples
In-game quotes
Game manual

Electronic games are a form of software, so the example and guidelines (APA, 2010, p. 210) for citing software might seem the place to start. However the first games I wanted to cite were board games, so the software example was not where I went first, and when it came time to cite an electronic game I adapted from my board game guesses.

Even if one were to start at the software example, I think we'd end with the same format (jump to example) because we are permitted to adapt as needed... and we would want to for:
  • Author: the guidelines for software seem to indicate that unless an individual has proprietary rights to the software the reference would be cited as an unauthored work, ie, by the title of the game, however isn't it first preferred to credit a corporate author (ie the game developer), than to assume none? There are also cases where developer and publisher are separate entities. I note that WorldCat's citation export tool generally compiles all reference styles for games using corporate authors.
  • Date: Unfortunately the example for software (APA, 2010, p. 211) does not use a date, and offers no explanation for this divergence from normal practice: I considered it an error and that the date of publication (or copyright) is appropriate to include. But then again some online games are continually updated so sometimes, depending on the nature of the information being cited, a date might not be as relevant.
  • Place of Publication? This information is not usually provided with game software, is the place important in this case?

In general, unless required otherwise by the university or publication, I would probably cite the developer, with the reference appearing:
Developer unless principal author is acknowledged. (year). Title (version #, if relevant) [gameformat]. Place of publication: Publisher.

in text: (Developer, Year)
Apparently this works out to be very similar to the style for game citations (based on APA) required by the publication Game Studies.

  1. Board Game:
    • Darrow, C. D. (2006). Monopoly: the property trading board game. Eastwood, N.S.W. : Hasbro / Parker.
    • Drennan, D. (1986). Zamitar: a battle for survival in space, employing strategy and skill [Board game]. Australia: Author.

  2. Offline Electronic Game:
    • Firaxis Games Inc. (2005). Sid Meier's Civilization IV [PC game]. New York, NY: Take-Two Interactive Software.
    • Acclaim Entertainment. (2002). Turok Evolution [Playstation2 game]. Glen Cover, NY: Acclaim Entertainment.

  3. Online game:
    • Honeyslug. (2009). Ric Rococo: International Art Thief [Flash game]. Honeyslug. Retrieved 28 February 2010 from
    • Three Rings Design. (2001-2009). Puzzle Pirates. [Java-based game]. San Francisco, CA:Three Rings Design. Retrieved 28 February 2010 from
However, the title-based style is advised by some universities (eg Murdoch). So: do check the requirements of the professor or publication for whom you are writing.

--In-Game quotes

We are usually required to define as close a location as possible within the material. For a book this is by page, on the web by paragraph, from a play by division (Act, Scene, etc and Line).
How can we locate a quote within a game? Perhaps by Level or inter-level; or stage of scenario. I'd like to explore a variety of examples, but will have to get help from my gamer sons and friends.
Please send me examples of interesting or fun quotes from your favourite games - with the most concise but accurate location information for the quote
    • example quote from within a levelled online game?
    • example quote from within World of Warcraft or similar quest-based roaming game?
    • example quote from acted character in film supporting game storyline?
    • example quote from another player in an online role playing game - only if the transcript of game play is archived?

---Update 24 March 2010:

Game Manual

Yesterday someone stopped by having sought how to cite a game manual. It isn't the first time, and I've had a look at a few game manuals over time, trying to see if there are significant points about game manuals that are different from other books. There isn't really.

Key point: Check the details for the manual - whether they are different from the game, that is:
  • Manual author / developer - I did once see a board game's manual whose authorship was credited to an individual, so if citing that manual I'd use the individual's name; however whenever as usual there is no individual author, I consider the developer to be the manual's author.
  • Manual date - again is it different from publication date of the game?
  • Manual title - the manual son #1 just handed me is titled Ashes: Cricket 2009 which is the same as the game's title so I might add [game manual] to more specifically locate my source. I've also seen untitled... well it was more an instruction sheet than a manual, but the point being... if it doesn't have a title make one, enclosed in [ ]. (Just whipped over to APA's blog to check that, thanks Chuck)
  • Publisher place & name - I've been assuming that the game manuals that people came here curious to cite would have been published with the game, so this would be same as game publisher. Are there game manuals that were not published with the game?

Interestingly (thanks Alison Faix) there are some online games for practicing APA style citations (though not for games):
APA Psych Out by Williams College Libraries focusses on citation of books, chapters and articles but the basic principles of these extend to newer online sources.
APA and MLA Citation Games (jigsaw puzzles really) by University of Washington Trio Training Drag and drop the citation pieces in the correct order for that type, and includes puzzles for music recordings and televised broadcasts.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Teaching humans how to learn !?!

So, I've been griping, about this topic for a while.

As part of my "fun" I looked at "The Big 6", and included this as one part of my application:
It is amusing and confusing to see what I consider to be a perfectly natural (untrained) process labeled, copyrighted and marketed with apparent success. When researching for and writing my April 2007 post “How does one cite a blog post in APA style?” I used the same natural mental processes I recall my school mates and I used in our teens (1981-1986), and that I see my unschooled children using today. My own teen years were before Eisenberg & Berkowitz began touting this “model and curriculum” (copyrighted variously 1987 (Eisenberg, 2004) and 1988 (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1997)).

Details of the Big 6 steps to problem solving / information literacy are spelled out when hovering over the numbers in the header of the website For the fun of it, see how my process could be hung on the hangers of “the Big 6”:

  1. Task Definition
    1. I wanted to cite blog posts appropriately for my assignments; (define task)
    2. I needed to find instructions, suggestions or examples on how to do so. (identify information needed)
  2. Information seeking strategies
    1. I could look in the official APA guide; ask teachers or colleagues; search with Google (to start).(Determine all possible sources)
    2. I would search those sources in that order. (Select the best)
  3. Location and Access
    1. I know the Dewey Decimal number for citation guides; talk to teachers in class and colleagues at work and Google is in my browser window. (Locate sources)
    2. APA Guide had principles I could use but no specific example, teachers and colleagues refer to the guide, but Google produced results. (Find information within sources)
  4. Use of information
    1. I read and evaluated a variety of pages from the Google results. (Engage)
    2. I kept pages with likely examples open in tabs. (Extract relevant information)
  5. Synthesis
    1. I tagged (with delicious) the pages that had examples even though they didn’t seem right enough to me, and quoted those examples … (Organise information from multiple sources)
    2. In a contemplative blog post of my own in which I compared the examples against the APA referencing style principles.(Present the information)
  6. Evaluation
    1. Finding and extracting information was very fast, my comparison and making decision took a bit longer. Writing took the longest. My natural thinking processes worked. (Judge the process)
    2. I am satisfied with my conclusion and no teachers have quibbled with the way I reference blogs. My writing was not the most fluent, but it was for me as a student, not an audience. Had I been an educator or librarian I would have written more briefly and obtained or hedged against an institutional decision. Even so, at first around 80-90 people a day, and more recently 30-40 people a day visit that blog post from Google or other searches on the topic (statistics obtained from MyBlogLog) so I appear to have created new knowledge. Unfortunately although I asked for comments, few people leave any so I could not tell whether people agreed with my conclusion or not. However I recently discovered that my conclusion matches a style later advised by Judi DeLisle (2007) of Valencia Community College who also cites my post "How does one cite a blog post comment in APA style?”. MyBlogLog also revealed that people arrived at my blog wanting to know how to cite YouTube and Flickr, so I went on to research those problems too. (Judge the product)

Sigh. How ever did anyone manage to solve problems before 1987?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Literacy & Informacy: Problems with the term "information literacy skills"

Previously, I explained why I applied for RPL in
CULLB602C Use, evaluate and extend
own information literacy skills

YAY I have been granted recognition of prior learning :D

I never did get around to publishing the progress of my thoughts while examining conceptions of “information literacy” - probably because I never really resolved the issues to my own satisfaction.

Perhaps instead I will just post a scattering of thoughts without aiming for a conclusion.

First I needed to understand my base point. So I looked at definitions:

From memory: A skill is an ability; but then so is literacy. So "literacy skills" is tautological (ability to read and write abilities).

I checked a dictionary:

From the Concise Oxford Dictionary (Sykes, 1976):

information n. Informing, telling; thing told, knowledge, (desired items of knowledge, news.

literacy n. Ability to read and write.

skill1 n Expertness, practiced ability, facility in an action or in doing or to do something; dexterity, tact.
However: I have observed over the years that the term ‘literacy’ has been used to express a variety of notions beyond that simplest definition, to include whole spans of thinking and communication skills (Callison & Lamb, 2005-2009). Sometimes to the point where reading and writing may be completely irrelevant: “making meaning in a two way flow of communications” (Boyce, 1999, p. 57). In fact Callison & Lamb (2005-2009), among many, declare that “the definition of literacy has evolved” (¶1).

Oh I'd agree that the term has been malleably defined to suit the goals of its users, but considering the breadth encapsulated in its Latin root, evolution is not what has happened.

I guess I struggle with phrases compounded as "xxxx literacy" because of the way "literacy" itself is loaded.

Comprehension and communication skills seem to me to be independent of the ability to read and write; and need to have been present in order for a person to learn to read and write. Refinement of comprehension (higher order thinking skills) and communication also develop outside a text environment, although most of us don't get to see that as we live and learn within one.

It is easy to see how, in a society in which text is a dominant communication device; people can conflate natural development of human capacity to comprehend and communicate with increasing competence and fluency with text. Could such conflation create an assumption that to learn and function depend particularly on the ability to read and write; then explaining why quite beside the overall education system, literacy programs particularly attract funding? Might this factor into a willingness to wrap up anything at all as literacy?

Back to "xxxx literacy": These days one can find “literacy” being appended to almost any other word to convey something about skills which are required to make sense within context of the first word. Often, these skills do not require literacy at all except when they are to be applied in a text environment. For example:
“Scientific Literacy, Economic Literacy, Technological Literacy, Visual Literacy, Information Literacy, Multicultural Literacy.... communication literacy, productivity literacy, content literacy, critical literacy” (Callison & Lamb, 2005-2009, ¶4,5).
Even the competence to pursue, evaluate and use information does not require literacy (the ability to read and write). Campbell (2008 p. 19, citing Aporta, 2002) describes how the Inuit people in Canada’s High Arctic, when planning a journey across the sea ice which reforms over time with ocean currents and underwater landforms:
  • know they need information on the current “ice marks” by which to navigate,
  • know whom to approach to get information (the experts with the traditional, oral knowledge on the codes that make such marks predictable),
  • evaluate who has the most experience or is the best navigator, and
  • use that information to travel through the sea ice territory safely
Campbell (2008) declares this pattern of information seeking, evaluating and using is consistent with the American Library Association (1989, ¶3) definition of being information literate: to recognise when information is needed, to locate, evaluate and use appropriate information effectively.

Such an example demonstrates that the capacity humans have for acquiring and using information does not require literacy (ability to read and write). So to label such capability as "information literacy" perpetuates confusion where there should be distinction between literacy and thinking or whatever skills are of practical interest.
  • Precise skills which fall under the label ‘information literacy’ are remarkably diverse depending on the educator and his/her program, and can include:
    • Basic computer and internet access skills (Millen & Roberts, 2007) through to information technology fluency (Bundy, 2004 as cited in Andretta 2005, p. 44; Shapiro & Hughes, 1996),
    • Library orientation (Slusarczyk, 1996; Gavin, 2008),
    • Search engine savvy, or searching the web (Boyce, 1999, ¶2; Gavin, 2008) ,
    • Searching OPACs, databases (Gavin, 2008; Andretta, 2005),
    • Selecting a research/essay topic and developing a thesis statement (Gavin, 2008),
    • Writing skills (Andretta, 2005, p. 176),
    • Referencing skills (Andretta, 2005, p. 175; Slusarczyk, 1996 p. 62),
    • Evaluating web sources (Gavin, 2008; Andretta, 2005, p. 174),
    • Standards and formulae for cognitive skills and metacognitive processes including problem solving and critical thinking (Boyce, 1999, ¶2; Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 2009; Shapiro & Hughes, 1996, Bundy (2004) and Hepworth (2000) as cited in Andretta, 2005, p. 44 and p. 16)
    • “Social-structural literacy, or knowing that and how information is socially situated and produced” (Shapiro & Hughes, 1996),
    • The ability to self-publish electronically in text or multimedia (Shapiro & Hughes, 1996),
    • Values and beliefs about wise, ethical and socially responsible use of information (Bundy (2004) as cited in Andretta, 2005)
    • “right through to philosophy of learning how to learn, personal mastery and leadership” (Boyce, 1999, ¶2)
Once again one wonders whether the umbrella use of a term like “information literacy” is motivated by the appeal of the words to garner financial support. Boyce (1999) opines:
“The social and cultural values we associate with each word mediate their connection so that coupled together in a special communications context, at a time of educational and curriculum reform, they are endowed with urgency and extra significance”
I'm tempted, if an umbrella term is needed (for the capabilities to identify a need for, seek, find, evaluate and ethically use information) to use Informacy. Although I imagined the term for myself following the pattern set by literacy and numeracy, I have discovered I am not the first:

Not having access to Emerald's holding of Aslib Proceedings from 1984, I cannot check who (if anyone) R Lester appears to have been citing in that article. Nor could I check whether the term was defined as I would use it. (Update 11 April 2011, I've somehow gained access and it appears Lester was citing a "LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES COUNCIL. Working Party on Manpower Education and Training. Discussion Paper on User Education. June 1983" and from his quotes (because I can't find the original) believe they did use the term as I would.  Interestingly, Mr Lester argued against public funding of "user education" programs, and felt the appropriate place for informacy education was in primary schools.)

In one case:

Is there any way of easily discovering whether the term was ever proposed outside of the context of modern technology? In some cases Informacy appears to be used as a compound of information handling and technolacy (another term I'm not the first to conceive):

Considering that information is available both outside text and technology, I'd prefer that the term Informacy not automatically incorporate Technolacy:

But that's enough for today.

References (only those which could not be hyperlinked):

Andretta, S. (2005). Information literacy: a practitioner's guide. Oxford, UK: Chandos.
Boyce, S. (1999). Second thoughts about information literacy. Concept, challenge, conundrum: from library skills to information literacy (pp. 57-65). Adelaide, SA: University of South Australia Library.
Gavin, C. (2008). Teaching information literacy: a conceptual approach. Plymouth, UK: The Scarecrow Press.
Millen, D., & Roberts, H. (2007). Healthy mind, healthy body: digital literacy in the NHS. In J. Secker, D. Boden, & G. Price, The information literacy cookbook: ingredients, recipes and tips for success (pp. 27-43). Oxford, England: Chandos.
Slusarczyk, L. (1996). Finding business information in Curtin University Library: information literacy skills for life-long learning. [Bentley], Western Australia: Glenn Pass.
Sykes, J. B. (Ed.). (1976). The concise Oxford dictionary of current English (6th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...