For the last week of class lecture, we discussed how the digital age has changed how we look at, study, and research history. The question we have to answer is how we think digital methods will change how we study and research history. This is a tough question to answer, partly because I have grown up in the digital age, so historical information has always been available to me on the internet. I remember my first major research paper that I wrote back in high school, almost every bit of the information for that paper came from online sources. And in almost everyone of my college courses, we have a class dedicated to learning how to use research databases online for gathering more sources and information. I have never really known a strategy for finding information other than using the internet, so this question is a bit more difficult for me than for some other people who have had to learn research using only hard copy books and libraries.
Both of my sisters are still in school as well, and when they have papers to write I rarely see them looking at books or journals for their information, all of their sources come from the internet. That does bother me to see them using nothing but online sources, but that is how they have been taught in this digital age to find their information. Before the internet was seen as a reliable source for historical information, I had to use the school libraries and public libraries to find my information, and it did take a lot more time just trying to find a book that had relevant information for my research topic. I find it easier to find information in the hard copy books sometimes because I skim the information faster and not have to worry about the lag on a computer when trying to browse through the pages quickly. Each source has its pros and cons, but it is a good idea to embrace using both.
When writing papers, even today, I find myself reading something online, and then checking a hard copy book used in the class to see if the book claims the same thing, so I make sure to use both methods when writing papers. I see the internet as a way to find several sources that I may be able to use for my paper. While there are many sites out there like Google books and HathiTrust that are digitizing books, they don’t have every book digitized, which is why libraries are still important for research and history. I have come across some amazing and helpful books looking through the library that were not available online in a digital version, so using online sources is not the only way. Unfortunately, students today are taught they only need the internet to find the information they need, but they always risk using sites that are inaccurate and wrong, so the information in their paper is wrong. Not all sites online need to be avoided, some are very helpful for gathering more sources, but students should know that the internet isn’t the only way to get sources and information. Sometimes, going into the old books and getting their fingers dirty is the best way to find historical information.