Infoxication 2.0

Infoxication 2.0

Elena Benito-Ruiz (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-190-2.ch004
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This chapter reviews the issue of information overload, introducing the concept of “infoxication 2.0” as one of the main downsides to Web 2.0. The chapter describes some of its potential effects on the learner, on the one hand, and puts forward some solutions to deal with the informational and communication barrage worsened by Web 2.0 plethora, on the other. The review of the issue reveals that although the problem of information overload has existed for many years, the massive abundance of fragmented Web 2.0 informational and communicative resources for the language learner might become an obstacle, i.e. it is often difficult to find what’s useful. Two kinds of solutions are identified, those based on common sense and time management, and those based on technology agents such as RSS readers and especially the future generation of RSS mash-up tools. An emphasis is placed on the role of the teacher as the facilitator to provide the know-how on these tools.
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Infoxication 2.0

The idea that computer technology introduced the age of information is completely misleading and fallacious. The printing press began that age (Dewar, 1998; Borgman, 2000; Darnton 2000a). But, computer technologies enlarged it exponentially. One of the most overwhelming features of present western society is the rapid sequence in which events, thoughts, and products occur due to technological progress (Bolter, 1984). If Google is handling the processing of exabytes of information with difficulty, users, consumers and producers of information (i.e. prosumers) are being surpassed by the amount of time devoted to absorb and, in the process, to purge gigabytes of information. After all, when searching for information what is actually being done is to filter contents in order to keep only what is interesting or that what is agreed with. Whatever it is that is being processed, e.g. audio, text or video, a conversation, a newspaper article or a TV documentary. The human brain, whose mechanisms science would like to emulate, is then responsible for processing, tagging and storing information on our cognitive servers.

But there is so much to see and read in the Web and time is too short. There is no Web 2.0 site that gives vouchers to get more time for free. Learners need to handle all that draws their attention in Web 2.0 without feeling dizzy or overwhelmed by their own information/communication eagerness. This eagerness to know more is not a new thing. As Shenk (1997) explained, human beings have always pursued information and contact, but nowadays the problem is not so much getting hold of it as it is differentiating what we expose ourselves to. It is that ancestral desire to know more and to communicate with others that took society to our current situation. Thus, the stimulus is not new — as will be seen later — but the available answers to that stimulus are indeed new in terms of quantity, quality and accessibility. In the current information glut, learners have to differentiate what is useful from what is not. At this point, it should be emphasized that in this chapter the discussion is not about deontological distinctions such as “what is good vs. what is bad” because who can define the inherent “goodness” of information? From a pragmatic viewpoint, this chapter will refer to that sort of information that is somehow useful to language teachers and learners. It is not concerned with the process of accessing information but the process of accessing by means of which we can find useful knowledge, whatever this may be.

In a normal studying day, a learner will have to pick up calls, read emails, read the press, chat through an Internet messenger, answer SMS, read Web feeds and carry out their job, as well as pay attention to their social and personal life. And although there are some mechanisms, which will be seen below, to help with some of these tasks, there is no way to control this flood of data that comes increasingly as a commodity. As Postman noted, “information is now a commodity that can be bought and sold, or used as a form of entertainment, or worn like a garment to enhance one’s status. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, do not know what to do with it” (Postman, 1990, para. 27). What could Postman’s view be now, 18 years later, when there are millions of Web pages, blogs, wikis, and social networks?

The University of Berkeley (Lyman, 2003) attempted to quantify in bytes the information available in our society. Their first attempt dates from 2000 (with data from 1999) and their most recent attempt was in 2003 (with data from 2002). It might be interesting to know if the reason why there have not been further attempts was the tsunami of information caused by the wide adoption of blogs (a significant application of Web 2.0) in 2004. In any case, the numbers identified by the 2003 study are already staggering — all production information in various formats for the year 2002 occupies a trillion and a half gigabytes of storage or about 250 MB per person. However, from the amount of information produced in 2002, “only” 1.75% came from Web pages. For example, email generated much more information with 8% of the total. But, although talking about these figures creates a certain impact on us, it will not help us see the whole picture (Brown & Duguid, 2000), because “storage” does not mean importance, or “volume” value. Some times figures lead to “tunnel vision.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Web 3.0: Probably another buzzword like Web 2.0 for marketing purposes. Web 3.0 is referred to as the Semantic Web, in which the web itself will be used as a database with more intelligent search engines, filtering tags and where the information will be widgetized.

Feed: A feed refers to syndicated website content; a feed is a document (based on XML) including a headline, a short summary of the content and a link back to the place on the reader’s website where the content resides (if it is a partial feed) or the full article/content (if it is a full feed). Orange or gray icons in websites indicate that the website’s content is available in a feed, and therefore, can be syndicated (or subscribed using an RSS reader).

Beta Version: A stage of the software release cycle. A beta version is the first version released outside the organization or community that develops the software, for the purpose of evaluation or debugging. In the world of Web 2.0, the beta stage is almost a must so that Web 2.0 tools should be always in a perpetual beta or developed in the open.

Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS): The cognitive inability to keep up with the ever-increasing amounts of available information.

Tag: A tag is a keyword or label. People can tag their posts, photos, videos and any content uploaded to web 2.0 with any keyword that makes sense. While categories tell users the specific location, i.e. where a given piece of content is, tags indicate what that content is about. They offer another way to navigate content on a site, showing how popular different keywords are. Tags that are large are mentioned a lot, tags that are smaller have only been written about a few times.

Long Tail: An expression first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired Magazine article. Although intended as a business principle, The Long Tail is also being used to discuss information retrieval on the Internet to emphasize the fact that information is being fragmented into thousands of blogs, feeds, social networks, etc.

Infoxication 2.0: Infoxication 2.0 is a viral process, a ripped, mixed and burned virus coming from our most essential needs (information and communication), exponentially worsened by the myriad of Web 2.0 communication and networking possibilities. It refers to an intoxication of excessive informational and communicational demands.

WYSIWYG: An acronym for What You See Is What You Get, an interface in which content during editing appears as the final product.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Mark Warschauer
Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas
Chapter 1
Michael Vallance, Kay Vallance, Masahiro Matsui
The grand narrative of educational policy statements lack clear guidelines on Information Communications Technology (ICT) integration. A review of... Sample PDF
Criteria for the Implementation of Learning Technologies
Chapter 2
Mark Pegrum
This chapter discusses the application of a range of Web 2.0 technologies to language education. It argues that Web 2.0 is fundamentally about... Sample PDF
Communicative Networking and Linguistic Mashups on Web 2.0
Chapter 3
Bernd Rüschoff
Current thinking in SLA methodology favours knowledge construction rather than simple instructivist learning as an appropriate paradigm for language... Sample PDF
Output-Oriented Language Learning With Digital Media
Chapter 4
Infoxication 2.0  (pages 60-79)
Elena Benito-Ruiz
This chapter reviews the issue of information overload, introducing the concept of “infoxication 2.0” as one of the main downsides to Web 2.0. The... Sample PDF
Infoxication 2.0
Chapter 5
Margaret Rasulo
The aim of this chapter is to discuss the effectiveness and the necessity of forming a community when engaged in online learning. The Internet and... Sample PDF
The Role of Community Formation in Learning Processes
Chapter 6
Tony Mullen, Christine Appel, Trevor Shanklin
An important aspect of the Web 2.0 phenomenon is the use of Web-embedded and integrated non-browser Internet applications to facilitate... Sample PDF
Skype-Based Tandem Language Learning and Web 2.0
Chapter 7
Gary Motteram, Susan Brown
Web 2.0 offers potentially powerful tools for the field of language education. As language teacher tutors exploring Web 2.0 with participants on an... Sample PDF
A Context-Based Approach to Web 2.0 and Language Education
Chapter 8
Lut Baten, Nicolas Bouckaert, Kan Yingli
This case study describes how a project-based approach offers valuable new opportunities for graduate students to equip them with the necessary... Sample PDF
The Use of Communities in a Virtual Learning Environment
Chapter 9
George R. MacLean, James A. Elwood
Prensky (2001) posited the emergence of a new generation of “digital natives” fluent in the language of cyberspace and familiar with the tools of... Sample PDF
Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT
Chapter 10
Steve McCarty
In a cross-cultural educational context of TEFL in Japan, the author sought to enhance the integrative motivation of students toward the target... Sample PDF
Social Networking Behind Student Lines in Japan
Chapter 11
Antonie Alm
This chapter discusses the use of blogs for foreign and second language (L2) learning. It first outlines the suitability of blogs for language... Sample PDF
Blogging for Self-Determination with L2 Learner Journals
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Revathi Viswanathan
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Using Mobile Technology and Podcasts to Teach Soft Skills
Chapter 13
Andy Halvorsen
This chapter looks at the potential use of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) for educators and second language learners. It views SNSs broadly through... Sample PDF
Social Networking Sites and Critical Language Learning
Chapter 14
Nicolas Gromik
This chapter reports on an ongoing project conducted at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. A mixed group of seven advanced EFL learners produced... Sample PDF
Producing Cell Phone Video Diaries
Chapter 15
Thomas Raith
This chapter explores in how far Web 2.0, Weblogs in particular, has changed foreign language learning. It argues that Weblogs, along with Web 2.0... Sample PDF
The Use of Weblogs in Language Education
Chapter 16
Nat Carney
This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of blogs in Foreign Language Education (FLE) through reviewing literature, critically analyzing... Sample PDF
Blogging in Foreign Language Education
Chapter 17
Pete Travis, Fiona Joseph
In particular, this chapter looks at the potential role of Web 2.0 technologies and podcasting to act as a transformational force within language... Sample PDF
Improving Learners' Speaking Skills with Podcasts
Chapter 18
Volker Hegelheimer, Anne O’Bryan
The increasing availability of mobile technologies is allowing users to interact seamlessly with a variety of content anytime, anywhere. One of... Sample PDF
Mobile Technologies, Podcasting and Language Education
Chapter 19
Jenny Ang Lu
This chapter aims to investigate how podcasts can be made to fit into the repertoire of resources utilized by teachers, especially in language... Sample PDF
Podcasting as a Next Generation Teaching Resource
Chapter 20
Matthias Sturm, Trudy Kennell, Rob McBride, Mike Kelly
Web 2.0 tools like blogs, Wikis, and podcasts are new to the vocabulary of language acquisition. Teachers and students who take full advantage of... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Implications of Web 2.0
Chapter 21
John Paul Loucky
This study describes a task-based assessment (TBA) approach to teaching reading and writing online. It then analyzes key factors emerging from the... Sample PDF
Improving Online Readability in a Web 2.0 Context
Chapter 22
Jaroslaw Krajka
This chapter contrasts the use of corpora and concordancing in the Web 1.0 era with the opportunities presented to the language teachers by the Web... Sample PDF
Concordancing 2.0: On Custom-Made Corpora in the Classroom
Chapter 23
Darren Elliott
This chapter looks at the ways in which teacher training and teacher development are taking place online. It seeks to address the ways in which... Sample PDF
Internet Technologies and Language Teacher Education
Chapter 24
Sarah Guth
This chapter discusses the potential of social software and Web 2.0 tools to enhance language learning in a blended learning context. It describes... Sample PDF
Personal Learning Environments for Language Learning
Chapter 25
Shudong Wang, Neil Heffernan
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Mobile 2.0 and Mobile Language Learning
Chapter 26
Euline Cutrim Schmid
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The Pedagogical Potential of Interactive Whiteboards 2.0
Chapter 27
David Miller, Derek Glover
This chapter summarizes the work underway to chart, critically evaluate, and systematize the introduction of interactive whiteboards (IWB) into... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards in the Web 2.0 Classroom
Chapter 28
Samuel Holtzman
The process of technological inclusion begins with an analysis of the features and functions of the specific tool in consideration. Pedagogy should... Sample PDF
Web 2.0 and CMS for Second Language Learning
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