This post was written by Elaine Alligood, MAHSLIN President.
I just read an Interesting item from Jakob Nielsen about search strategies. Jakob Nielsen is a web usability expert & guru; his observations are spot-on evidence for the importance of us-librarians in the search process: searching for clinicians at the point of need, training clinicians what they don’t know about how to search, training clinicians when to get help with search, when to question the reliability of their results. . . and more!
Jakob Nielsen writes: “Although some analysts questioned the finding of search dominance, it’s a user behavior that gets stronger every year. Today, many users are so reliant on search that it’s undermining their problem-solving abilities. Ironically, the better search gets, the more dangerous it gets as people increasingly assume that whatever the search engine coughs up must be the answer.”
Thus, users increasingly rely on individual pages listed by search engines instead of finding better ways to tackle problems! Not us necessarily, but our users/clinicians may very well be doing it!
This is what could be termed as a risk of users’ accepting bad results as good results or the normalization of deviance. Loosely, the definition of the expression “normalization of deviance” as applied to human behavior and in our case, search behavior, was invented by a sociologist, Diane Vaughan, and represents when individuals in a system, over time, change the rules of what has been found an appropriate and safe behavior to one which is less appropriate and less safe because each individual finds that other individuals are changing the rules in the same way. So that behavior which is deviating from the established rules is now being made normal and common by this phenomenon—and in our world, more dangerous, as well!
Check it out. . . perhaps you can use this in your own institution to change a few minds. . . Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox for April 11: