August 9, 2007

Purdue Libraries assist student's online fact-finding contest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University senior is using a contest in which participants test their skills in gathering obscure information off the Internet to make the point that America's future depends upon our ability to mine the increasing amount of information online.

"We're already a service economy," said philosophy major Daniel Scott Poynter. "We're not competitive making widgets with our hands, and our white-collar jobs like accounting and programming can often be done for a tenth the price overseas. Our only hope of being competitive is sifting through the data deluge better than anyone else and creating value from mankind's best invention - the Web."

The pilot project - The Digital Information Literacy Contest: A Contest of Internet Research Skills and Critical Thinking - is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. Aug. 29 in Stanley Coulter Hall, Room 231. The event is free and open to the public to compete. Purdue University Libraries is providing free pizza and drinks, and the West Lafayette library is a sponsor. Cash and other prizes will be awarded to winners. This contest is a "proof of concept" - participants will have the opportunity afterwards to help develop the concept and be a part of the formative event.

Participants will be given 30 minutes, a seat at a computer and a list of questions to answer by searching online. For example, participants might be asked to find the address of where a business was located in 1965. Contestants will be penalized for incorrect answers, making a major part of the challenge the search for reliable information.

"There is so much information online, but what's opinion, fact or disinformation?" Poynter said. "This is one way to get people talking about sorting through the flood of information. And how do we test Internet-enabled individuals? Our generation has grown up immersed in cyberspace. This is already altering the human experience radically. We need both intellectually rounded and historically grounded training in processing information to be proactive shapers of the future."

The contest is open to the first 70 people who register online at Poynter also is seeking volunteers to help create questions and grade responses.

For more information, contact Poynter at (765) 425-6033, e-mail him at  or go online to

Writer: Jim Bush (765) 494-2077,

Source: Daniel Poynter (765) 425-6033,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

To the News Service home page

Newsroom Search Newsroom home Newsroom Archive