Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Boolify - tackling a new basic skill

Thanks to Jane Hart for pointing me to Boolify - David Crusoe and his team are, in his own words addressing what I would term a 21st century basic skill:

"One of the challenges of web searching is that while it's important for kids to know how to conduct good searches, e.g., for research, the common textual tools do a poor job of modeling, for kids, the impact that their boolean has on results. As you can guess, good results inform good research.
"So, we've worked with a team of librarians and others to develop something called Boolify, a graphical search tool meant for K12 use. It pulls results from Google's SafeSearch (Strict), so it's reasonably classroom-safe, and we get the best of both worlds: a great way to understand and build searches, as well as great results provided by Google."

This is a simple, yet powerful, attempt to address some of the core challenges we face in a networked world - how do you find something of value, how do decide what you find is of value. It's very easy to just go with the flow and yes, technology will improve, especially if you allow it into your life to the extent it learns your own preferences and actions for you (although this has clear privacy implications). As I commented to Jane, many adults could do with using tools like this, not just kids. In my post on Knowledge Loses its Luster, I reference Susan Jacoby, author of "The Age of American Unreason", who observes two worrying trends among younger people: anti-intellectualism (the belief that "too much learning can be a dangerous thing") and anti-rationalism (the idea that "there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion").

Tools like Boolify will help us all learn to use online content in more sophisticated and objective ways. Any other examples out there?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Awesome tool by way of Jane Hart. I took a quick look at the site and played with it myself. It will be very helpful for my kids as well as my adult students that I teach online. I liked it so much, I emailed the link to the principal at my children's grade school!

Thanks for sharing it.