Tuesday, May 10, 2011

MLK, Osama and a global game of telephone


On May 2nd, the day after Osama was assassinated, I saw this quote on the Facebook wall of a good friend:

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. MLK Jr.

I liked it. It matched the sentiment I was feeling, so I shared it. A lot of other people did, too. A lot of other people.

Apparently, the first line of the quote went viral on twitter. The only problem was that the first line of the quote wasn't Martin Luther Kings words. The rest of the quote is from MLK's book Strength to Love but that first line seemed to have gotten picked up and passed along as part of the quote.

There is a lot to be said about this situation. About citing your sources, about inspiration, even about appropriate reactions to global events.

What I find most interesting about this (semi)fake quote is how social media highlights one of the most basic rules of information science: The most trusted source for information is someone you already know. Those of us who saw the quote on a friend's Facebook wall or in a twitter feed trusted that person. I know I didn't think to confirm the validity of the quote, and obviously neither did others. This is a prime example of how Facebook, and social media as a whole, has become such a major player in the past five years. In the digital age, it's a way of building networks with those we already know and trust.

I think that this is an important reminder for librarians, especially in terms of the customer service that we offer our library users. Not that we have to be on Facebook (which I feel anyways) but that it is important to be seen as active and prominent members of our community. Whether it be a college campus, a corporate office or even just a local community, the days of hiding in the library are over. Our patrons need to know who we are.

David Shumaker
has been doing some great research into the concept on embedded librarianship - worth checking out.

To see the original Facebook post the caused the misquote to go viral, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Great observations, Turner. And so true ("The most trusted source for information is someone you already know.")

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