Ben De Biasio

May the Fourth be With You!

As anyone using the internet today has likely noticed, the Fourth of May is Star Wars Day – a galaxy-wide day of Star Wars Celebrations. What started as a pun on “may the force be with you“, May 4th has become an unofficial nerd holiday that Disney also uses to announce new content.

Whether you have attained the rank of Jedi Master or are a lowly Padawan, the Moraine Valley Library has you covered with books, video, eBooks, comics, audiobooks and more! Check out our Digital Display to see tons more Star Wars from the MVCC Library!

May the Fourth be With You – Always

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What’s up with the Gender Pay Gap?

5, 10 and 20 dollar bills are spread out
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck

According to new data from the Pew Research Center, a woman in 2022 typically earns 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man. A pitiful 2% increase since 2002. This gap is regardless of skill or educational level and is measurably larger for women of color. While the national statistics are certainly depressing, Illinois is no better.

As women’s history month begins I can’t help but wonder: how do we actually define the gender pay gap and how do we explain it?


How is the gender pay gap calculated?

The most common way that the gender pay gap is calculated is by comparing the median income of men and women who are employed full time. This is where the 82 cents per dollar figure comes from. While some disagree about the importance of this statistic, much of the controversy and confusion about the gender pay gap comes from attempting to explain its cause and its impact on society.

video from Harvard Kennedy School

What causes the gender pay gap?

There are several reasons that are commonly cited as causes for the gender pay gap. The types of work that men and women do – occupational segregation – is often in the forefront (see below). Others highlight the role of historical educational trends, work experience, or time away from employment as possible or partial explanations. These are all certainly plausible, but the crucial question is this: How much of the gap should be attributed to blatant discrimination and sexism? Some point out that these social forces all compound and can not be separated. In fact, 50% of Americans suggest that gender discrimination is a major reason for the gender pay gap.

a graph that demonstrated men's overrepresentation in the highest paying occupations and women's overrepresentation in the lowest
from Washington Center for Equitable Growth

The gender pay gap is almost certainly caused by a combination of all of these factors – including discrimination against women. I see no point in arguing about the cause or explanation – we deserve solutions not explanations. I want to live in a more equitable world and it is my hope that we can do much much better in the next 20 years.

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What is the Internet Archive?

Internet Archive Logo

I am sure that many of you are aware of the “Wayback Machine” – a tool that lets users view functional “snapshots” of websites as they existed at various times in the past. While students will certainly enjoy looking back on the Moraine Valley Website, this is only part of what the Internet Archive does. With the lofty mission “…to provide universal access to all knowledge“, the Internet Archive is a free and open online library that contains:


All of these resources are powerful tools for research, and this is a service that savvy internet users should be aware of: Looking for an authoritative version of website you visited in the past? Seeking an old local radio broadcast? Maybe you want to read a chapter of an obscure text that you can not find in your local library? With a variety of Special Digital Collections available (scroll down if you follow the link) – you might find just what you are looking for!


But there is fun to be had too – some will want to check out The Manga Library, The Old School Emulation Center, or study some Cookbooks from the last 200 years! I have been continuously dying while trying to play Super Mario Brothers in the browser, and am brought back to the early 90’s in my cousins basement! As you are probably starting to sense – the possibilities are endless. Note: Some materials require you to create a free digital “Library Card” to check out materials.

If you are interested in participating or learning more, check out their ongoing projects. You can create a free account to begin uploading content today!


What is the Internet Archive? Read More »

“About this result” on Google Search

Have you noticed those three vertical dots that are coming up next to Google search results? Google hopes that their “About this result” feature will make it easier for users to understand the results they are seeing.

Screenshot of Google Search Results Page

Clicking the three dots will pull up an “About this result” panel that includes key information about the website, and gives you the option to read “More about this page”. According to google, “If it’s a site you haven’t heard of before, that additional information can give you context or peace of mind, especially if you’re looking for something important, like health or financial information.”

Screenshot of "About this result" panel

“About this result” will certainly not cure the misinformation pandemic – but it is a time saving tool to be aware of. And if google is implementing this feature, I would be surprised (shocked!) if other search engines didn’t follow suit.

“About this result” on Google Search Read More »

Who is going to fact check the fact checkers?

With public trust in government and other institutions both near all time lows, can we expect people to put their trust in yet another group: fact checkers? Many have pointed to fact checking tools and services as part of the solution to the misinformation pandemic. But what happens when fact checking itself becomes polarized and politicized? Are we just recreating echo-chambers with partisan fact-checking services?

While I personally think that there are several useful and unbiased tools for fact checking, it can be dangerous to rely on a single source to filter the internet for you. These tools can absolutely save you time and energy, but if you are not comfortable relying on an outside source to fact check for you, you can use the same process that professional fact checkers use: Lateral Reading.

Lateral Reading is a strategic way to contextualize and verify information that you find online. The basic idea (which takes time and practice to master) is to open up new tabs on your web-browser and read “laterally” or side-to-side across the internet. Start searching the open web and ask yourself: Who or what is behind the information you are seeing? What are others saying about this news source or author or institution? What are others saying about this story? Can you find the original story or trace data/claims back to the original source? Once you are armed with this additional information and context, you can start to decide how seriously to take the information you are reading.

While there is no simple solution to combatting the spread of misinformation – there are steps that you can take to be a more informed consumer. Ultimately, each of us has the responsibility to decide who to trust online.

Who is going to fact check the fact checkers? Read More »

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