Katherine Pickering Antonova is an associate professor of modern European history at Queens College, City University of New York, where she teaches critical thinking through courses on historical writing, historical methods, and Russian and European history. She blogs about academia, teaching, history, and Russia at kpantonova.com.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This idea for this book was inspired by the Stanford study showing how much difficulty young people are having distinguishing between different qualities of sources online. I see this every day in my students. When nearly all the text you see is on a screen, without the clues of cover, weight, style, texture, or physical context helping you to figure out where it comes from and what it's meant for, it's much harder to know where to begin. I teach these and many other basic skills about handling information in my classroom all the time, just to be able to get to a point where we can talk about the real subjects I teach (history and writing).
My idea with this book was to put all that advice about how to handle information rationally and without going crazy in one place. I wanted to release it as widely as possible, because this is not a problem unique to young people. Those who didn't grow up with earlier forms of publishing and interacting may be at a certain kind of disadvantage, but those of us who have to adapt from older forms can often find ourselves at sea, too.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wrote this book in my "spare" time while working on other book projects that are more central to my professional life. I literally wrote it on car trips and while my baby slept on me, over the course of a few weeks. I wanted it to be as accessible as possible as quickly as possible, and indie publishing has that advantage.
A Consumer’s Guide to Information teaches the reader how to apply basic critical thinking skills to making sense of the information avalanche brought to us by digital media. It is a guide to staying sane, not getting conned, and understanding more.