Yesterday my husband and I were talking about a library world blog I had pointed him to (which shall remain nameless; I bear it no disrespect). He found it utterly meaningless, full of jargon he could not map to any sort of real-world phenomena.
I suspect, of course, that blogs written by and for people in his field (software) would have similar issues to readers from outside that field. The words are meaningless because you don’t know the jargon of the field, but also because you don’t know the assumptions; cultural norms that pass unquestioned in one place can look frankly bizarre in others.
Which got me to wondering — and I am asking for help from you information-literacy experts on this one — how can an outsider to a field (i.e. most of us, vis-a-vis most things we read, assuming we read at all widely) distinguish the genuinely meaningless from the merely to-us-obscure? When you don’t know the jargon, when you don’t know the assumptions of the field, what markers can you use to disambiguate navel-gazing windbaggery from serious discussion engaging with ideas you do not happen to know? (Are there such markers? I certainly hope so. Otherwise this whole Web 2.0 information filtering thing, as well as a lot of reference librarianship, is pretty much doomed.)
I realize I don’t have a good intuition for whether I already have a subliminal way of doing this, and that worries me.