What did we do before the Internet age when we had questions? Go to the library I suppose, but what if we didn’t have time or the library was closed, or that kind of information wouldn’t be at the library? What then?
I don’t remember. I suppose we just went on living our lives without knowing. Weird to think of now…just going on not knowing the answers to nagging questions.
The other night Stephen King’s book It was brought up in conversation. I recalled the miniseries, because the clown Pennywise was so frightening. I asked, “didn’t Tim Curry play Pennywise?” No one knew. Easy enough to remedy. I jumped on IMDB (the Internet Movie Database) and found out that yes, Tim Curry was indeed Pennywise. Whew. In the pre-Internet age that question would have bothered me for days!
I also recently read a historical fiction book based in Scotland during the 18th century when “Bonnie” Prince Charlie was fighting to gain the throne of England. I don’t know anything about this time period or the Bonnie Prince. So, I did a quick Google search and was able to find out everything I needed to know.
When I started doing research on the Viking age and Anglo-Saxon England I checked out books from the library of course. But, I also found an indispensable website, the medievalists.net. What a godsend! They have lists of articles of all kinds, even down to masters’ theses. I’ve spent countless hours reading articles, dissertations, and theses, and I never had to leave my house! The medievalists do all the work to make sure the information is reputable, and I just sit back and enjoy the fruits of their work.
I LOVE this information age. I love it that information is so available. I think back to previous generations when access to information was difficult or reserved for the elite. The very ability to read, an ability we take for granted now, was reserved for just a few people. It boggles my mind now, especially when I see very young children on their computers doing research and reading about their interests.
Young people today won’t know what it is like to have to WAIT for information, to put books on reserve, to wait for an inter-library loan for a periodical, to have to ask everyone you know the answer to a nagging question. I say…good! We just have to make sure now that they know how to find and use information and make sure that it’s valid. No small feat, but we’re up to the task.
How about you? What sites do you use regularly to get information? Do you remember doing research or answering questions in the pre-Internet age?