Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Reflection On Research/Gathering Information And How It Has Changed

When reading through the module handbook, I try to do this fairly often, and looking at my blog entries, I have discovered that I have not once written a blog about my initial thoughts. I am impatient to gain answers to my questions and I have to look into things immediately. On reflection of this, it raised some question about my research techniques and the technologies I use and how this has changed.

I was first talking to my parents about research and, in particular, my father is amazed by the internet and what I and my mother are able to do with it. My dad has difficulty finding the on switch of the television!
My father was born in 1938. The year before the 2nd world war broke out. So, as you can imagine, my father had an unusual childhood compared to children after his generation. Being dragged out to a bomb shelter in the middle of the night is not something that has happened to British children since the 2nd world war. Colour TV was something that came about in the 1960’s and 1970’s and my dad didn’t own a television until he was in his 40’s.
My mother was born in 1957. My parents saw a man walk on the Moon for the first time and it is unbelievable to know that my 4 year old laptop is more powerful than the computer they used to get them to the Moon and back. Amazing right?
There is an 18 year age gap between my parents. I was born in 1988, so there are 50 years separating me from my father and 32 years between my mother and I. This has meant that we do things differently and this is in direct relation to our generations. When my father needed to research something, he would have to walk to the library, very few people owned a car. Then he would either have to ask the librarian or search through the library index to find out where the information he was looking for would be. After knowing this he would have to find the books he wanted and hope that someone else hadn’t taken them out already. Then he would either have to read the book in the library or take it home to read if he was a member of the library. Then if there was a reference to another book that would be essential to his research, the whole process would have to be repeated. It might mean that he would have to go to another library to find the book he wanted. So to research was a long and time consuming process. Not just acquiring the knowledge from the books, but also the search for it.
My mother’s generation was slightly easier but still not easy, especially if you lived outside of the town. It was still a time consuming procedure.
For my generation, the information is at the touch of our finger tips. All I require is internet access. There is Wikipedia, not always a reliable source but a starting point. There is google search engine that will throw up any number of websites from just a few key words searched. I can use a Kindle, or any other E-reader, to download books without having to move out of my living room. If my book isn’t available as an E-book, I can order it online and have it sent wherever I need it, only taking a few days by mail. Or I can order it from a bookshop over the phone and pick it up when it arrives in the book store. To research is no longer difficult to do and it is far less time consuming.

How has this affected us though? I have found that my parents can read something once and remember it easily. I, on the other hand, can’t remember the information as easily. Possibly because I know I can get it back in a few seconds and read it again so there is no need for my mind to remember things in great detail. If my parents had forgotten an important piece of information, it meant having to make a long trek in search of it at the library again, gambling on the fact that the book would be available. Technology has affected our skills of remembrance, however, it has made knowledge accessible to many more people. It is possible to self-educate and there are many courses that can be conducted through the internet, like this one. 

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