Instant Information

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?

Richard of Wallingford, Abbot of St. Albans.  14th century.  Too bad he didn't have Internet access!

Richard of Wallingford, Abbot of St. Albans. 14th century. Too bad he didn’t have Internet access!

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?

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4 Responses to Instant Information

  1. Love this post – the only thing I’d caution is that we should know how to evaluate the sources in the googlenets (hee hee) – b/c all information is not equal (just like in pre-internet life). And instant information is AMAZBALLS – but it makes us impatient when we have to ‘wait’ for something – sometimes things take time.

    Libraries are still vital to our communities – and so is the physical stuff inside. Not all peer-reviewed journals are available online – some are password protected or have to be physically gotten. So like most things – this doesn’t replace the other – it compliments it.

    I use lots of different sources – depending on what I’m seeking .I love IMDB!

    • kimberlysbarton says:

      I totally agree, we do have to know how to evaluate our sources. I remember doing a Google search of something and every site listed said the exact same thing! It was like they all got the information from each other, and I could not find the original source. Needless to say, I didn’t use that information. And yes, we have become impatient. I know I am much more impatient than ever before!

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