Monday, May 7, 2012

I Love the Internet

I love the internet!  While some people use it for evil, I find it can also be a force for good.  There is SO MUCH information on it.  I have always loved to learn and I have been blessed with a fairly good memory.  It is not unheard of in my house for my husband (who is also extremely intelligent and possesses a plethora of knowledge) to ask a question and with a little bit of thought I am able to answer (granted, the subject of these questions is normally a date or a music question).  He then asks “How do you remember all of this?”  I don’t know, I just do (my brothers and my father also have this freakish aptitude for remembering trivial facts).

Tonight, while not sleeping, I was cruising the internet.  I was looking at some blogs with historical information (Dear Reader, pick your jaw up off the floor).  Some of this information even had scans of the original books (which, to this history nerd, is AWESOME).  It made me stop and think about how we take the internet and its surplus of information for granted.

It’s so easy to find information today.  All you have to do is Google it (or Bing or whatever search engine you use).  If you are trying to find out how to do something, there is probably a blog with step-by-step pictures or a YouTube video showing every minute detail.  Need to find an obscure item?  Just go to Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay to find it!  Information available with just the click of a mouse!

Think about how much the world has changed in 20-25 years.  Even in high school, if I needed to write a report and cite sources, I first had to go to the library to find said sources.  Which meant a stop off at the card catalogue to find out where in the library it was (side note - card catalogues are even online now ).  Then, you would have to find the book and/or reference material.  If you were lucky, there might be a key word index in the book to help you find the needed information quickly.  If not, you had to read (or at the very least skim) the book.

I remember in the 10th grade doing a report on Joan of Arc.  I needed five different references.  The library only had three (way to go me for picking a historical figure so obscure).  I ended up getting permission to use the three I had plus an interview of our French foreign exchange student to make four.   How much easier would it have been to research the report if I had had the modern internet “way back” then?

With all the information at our fingertips, we have to be the most knowledgable society in history!  That would be the logical conclusion.  I am afraid that is not the case; just ask any high school teacher.  Today’s youth have grown so accustomed to being able to Google the information that they do not retain much of it.  While I partly agree that there is no need to memorize something if you can look it up, I also think it is important to have a working knowledge of the subject so you can get along should something happen to the internet.  Think of it as having a backup plan.  For example, I can mash potatoes with my electric mixer, but should the power go out, I can still mash them with an old-fashioned potato masher.

Just some food for thought (pun not really intended, but it does make me look rather clever).

Until Tomorrow - Melissa