Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Information Behavior of Superheroes

As with most aspects of human behavior, superheroes' information behavior is above and beyond that of mere mortals. While most people--even professors and doctors who should know better--don't consult with information professionals when seeking information because they (erroneously) assume they can find it themselves, superheroes are not afraid to ask for help. Despite the fact that most superheroes have access to information systems far superior to any others known to humankind--for example, the Batcomputer in the Batcave with its comprehensive databases of information on every villain (super or otherwise) with or without a criminal record or the control room of the Justice League's Watchtower, with video access to literally anywhere on Earth, regardless of whether that place has video cameras--and many superheroes have abilities that are conducive to information-seeking--the Flash, for example, has been known to read entire libraries of books in minutes--these exemplars of superhumanity know to go to the pros for all of their information needs.

In all fairness to us mere mortals, superheroes' willingness to turn to their information professionals may have something to do with the fact that their information professionals are the best on the planet (perhaps in the universe). Take, for example, Barbara Gordon aka Oracle (formerly known as Batgirl)--Babs is the information professional's information professional. A former librarian, Oracle can find whatever you're looking for, whether that be the owner of a set of fingerprints, blueprints for a rare museum exhibit, or the Joker's credit history. Not only does she maintain her own databases of names, powers, contact information, and shoe size of virtually every superhero and villain, but she routinely hacks into databases of the CIA, FBI, and even that giant among information concealers, Wal-Mart itself, all to meet the information needs of her patrons in the superhero community. That is dedication. Worried that your information needs aren't as important as those of Batman and the Justice League? Never fear--Oracle has been known to help such second- and third-tier superheroes as Huntress, Black Canary, Elongated Man, and Aztek the Ultimate Man. Like any good information professional, she does not discriminate based on her personal biases or values. Unless you're a supervillain, in which case you'll want to contact her villainous counterpart, the Calculator.

What then can we learn from the information behavior of superheroes? Yes, we would do well to follow their example in consulting with our information professionals when seeking information, but perhaps the greater lesson to be learned is from superinformation professionals such as Barbara Gordon. When our non-super information professionals measure up to her superstandards, then our non-super information seekers will know, like the superheroes who inspire them, where they can turn for information.

7 comments:

Marcia said...

This may be the best post I've ever read anywhere. As I'm married to an information professional (who actually prefers to be called a librarian), I may be a bit biased.

robb said...

Yeah, what you said. Plus that WB Birds of Prey TV show was pretty cool... for a show on the WB anyway...

Katya said...

You're my hero. :)

Anonymous said...

Loyalist said...

"Holy Dewy Decimal System Batman! The books have been shelved incorrectly!"

btw, Noah Wylie's Librarian II will be on TNT this weekend. I thought that was a fun movie. besides they made Librarians sexy.

Master Fob said...

I beg your pardon, Loyalist, but librarians have always been sexy.

Anonymous said...

Loyalist said...

I stand corrected.

Lady Steed said...

You can take any subject and relate it to superheros.

That must be your superpower.