I'm getting ready to do several presentations on information literacy and I'm in the process of begining to prepare. I've done presentations on this topic before but, as you might expect, I'll have to revise it dramatically to reflect many of the new tools and ideas that are supportive of what it means to be information literate today. Unfortunately, since July, terrorist attacks in London and most recently, the devastation created on the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina have taught us new lessons on many fronts. During these events, new technology tools quickly exposed us to information about these events in very non-traditional ways (the rise of the citizen journalist), as well as the speed in which that information was transmitted (what Elliott Masie refers to as the velocity of information). In some instances, these technologies were employed in new ways to offer assistance to those in need-many applications done by creative people taking advantage of open source tools.
As the storm approached, I was able to watch it's progress through the Web cams stationed throughout New Orleans and available through Nola.com. While not a new technology, the cameras afforded me a real time view of what was taking place in the city from a view that I became familiar with during my 2004 visit for NECC (see my photos here). By viewing these images, by looking at images uploaded into Flickr (when I started, just over 1500 images with the Katrina tag, now over 21,000), by reading citizen journalist reports, and by reading the developing story at Wikipedia.org, my ability to understand what was taking place was much different than what would have happened perhaps even a year ago.Unfortunately, these tragedies have taught us much about the new way in which information flows, the universal need for access to information, the skills required to access information when it is most necessary, and the methodologies required to blend new technologies together to make a difference for people when it most matters.See my screenshots of the approaching storm here.