April 30th, 2010

Summer Wii Gaming Tournament

What do teens in Cecil County do when the final bell rings and school is out for the summer? Camps, sports, family vacations, and summer reading are all great ways to pass the summer months, and now the library has another fun summer activity for teens. The County-Wide Wii Gaming Tournament will be open to all teens ages 11 to 18 and will take place from June to September. Teens can play in three play-off games at their branch libraries, competing with their friends for the best scores in Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. The top scorers in each game from each branch will face each other in the championship games at the Elkton Central Library in September. The teens with the top scores in each game will be named the Wii Champions of Cecil County and walk away with an awesome prize!  Click here to read more.

But great prizes aren’t the only reason to get into gaming. Studies show that video games can improve hand-eye coordination and friendly competitions can teach teens sportsmanship and fair play. And who wouldn’t like to spend an hour rocking out to Guitar Hero in an air-conditioned library in the hot summer months? When the temperature soars and you can’t imagine digging in the garden or chasing a soccer ball up and down the yard, join us for some games at the library or invite your neighbors over for your own gaming tournament.

What kind of gaming systems do you prefer? Are you into top-of-the-line systems with all the bells and whistles, or are you more old-fashioned and prefer to pull out the Scrabble board or spend a few hours playing Monopoly? What games will you play with your family this summer?


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April 22nd, 2010

Is the Internet Making Us Stupid?

There’s a question being raised that keeps me up at night—Is the internet making us stupid?  I’ve been using the internet for years now and I’m wondering if I’ve actually lost IQ points as a result.  And if so, how do I get them back?  To answer this question, I’ll try two approaches—asking the internet and asking a librarian.

So, I type key words of my question into the Google search box:  “internet stupid” and press go.

First of all, I get 52 million responses in .47 seconds.  That’s the most productive thing I have ever done.  How can that be stupid?  Of course I only have time to look at the first page of results and Google knows which ones are the best ones, right?  I’m not so sure.  Here’s what Google found:

- Something Awful: The Internet Makes You Stupid: Daily internet news, reviews of horrible movies, etc.—No, not what I had in mind.
- Is the Internet Making us Stupid?:
This seems to try to answer my question.
- Image Results for Internet Stupid: The first image is titled “The Internet Makes You Look Stupid” and says that the internet doesn’t make you stupid, it just makes your stupidity more accessible to others. This seems true of the crew in the picture!
- Worst Problem on the Internet is Stupid Users
: Yes, but how did they get that way?
- Stupid Internet Tricks:
Not what I had in mind.
- Microsoft’s Internet Driving License: Stupid…but again, not helpful to my question.
- Is Google Making Us Stupid?: Finally, another serious article on my topic.
– And many, many more results that don’t answer my question…

Only 2 of the results actually address my question—the rest is of no use to me.

Now I’ll try what thousands of smarter people do in Cecil County all the time—I‘ll call a librarian and pose the question. Here’s my personal response from Angela Prandini, Adult Services Librarian:

“Using our Health and Wellness Resource Center database, I searched using the terms ‘internet and brain’.  This yielded several articles on how surfing the web helps to keep Seniors’ brains sharp. The same search had an article by Jule Klotter about how technology, especially social networking on the internet, causes a decrease in direct contact with other humans. The article is brief but it touches on several points, good and bad, regarding the impact of the internet. Here’s also an interesting blog that points out the good and bad.”

So here’s the lesson—the internet gives tons of information, but you have to weed through a lot of garbage.  Librarians are internet and information experts who provide thoughtful and complete answers from good sources, including specialized databases.  They judge the quality and veracity of where information comes from and filter out the junk. Call, visit or email your librarians with your next question and see what great results they produce.

I’m still not sure if I’m any smarter thanks to the internet, but I do know that asking the help of a trained librarian is ALWAYS a smart thing to do.

What do you think?  Is the internet making us dumber?  How do you deal with the overabundance of web information?


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