I am frequently asked about how I go about doing my research and almost always this includes curiosity about how much I use the Worldwide Web, which seems to be assumed by many [under the age of 50] to contain all the wisdom ever created by mankind, in both our dark and light moments.
One observation about the web is that if you want to plumb its depths, it’s gonna cost you a lot of buckaroonies. The “good stuff” in the deep data banks ain’t free or even accessible.
I recently read comments by the late John Updike on the Web and projections of where publishing is headed. What Updike said was this: “Yes, there is a ton of information on the Web, but much of it is egregiously inaccurate, unedited, unattributed, and juvenile. The electronic marvels that abound around us serve, surprisingly, to inflame what is most informally and noncritically human about us — our computer screens stare back at us with a kind of giant, instant, “Aew shucks,” disarming in its modesty, disquieting in its diffidence.”
The Web? I used it as a start point to build a bibliography of the sorts of sources I think I’ll need, and then I go to my lbirary or book store to obtain what I need, to read it for myself, not in filtered from through someone I know nothing about.
Updike continued: ‘“The printed, bound and paid-for book was — and still is, for the moment — more exacting, more demanding of the producer and consumer both. it is the site of an encounter, in silence, of two minds, one following in the other’s steps but invited to imagine, to argue, to concur on a level of reflection beyond that of personal encounter, with all its merely social conventions, its merciful padding of blather and mutual forgiveness.”
John Updike died last week at age 76. His creative work will be missed no less than his uncommon good sense and humanity. He was much more civil about the topic than I might have been.
Quite some years back and I.T. wizzo flounced into my office one day to inform me that my new computer was capable of 10,000 transactions per second. I said, “I type 40 words a minute on my best day,” so how about we talk in English and lose the bullshit?
My thoughts on the Web? What the late great man said.