Saturday, November 14, 2009


Jeffrey and I were talking today about the nature of research, and how the internet has changed it so much. I mean, that's nothing profound or anything. And I have to say that for me, the internet has stolen away a tiny bit of joy.

I love to do research. I love taking circuitous routes and finding information from different and obscure sources. I love to dig, and dig, and wash my hands and dig some more. I think it fits my personality exactly.

So at first, having all of this information readily available was great. I could learn anything about everything, answer any obscure question, order anything and have it at my door. But lately I've realized that the internet has eliminated for me the satisfaction of the medium-long search. Not like Call me Ishmael-type stuff or anything. It used to be that I would look for an answer for days, or weeks. But now, if I don't find the answer within a couple minutes (hour, tops) of dedicated searching, I hit a wall. There's nowhere else for me to look, and I know it's unlikely I'll ever find it on the internet.

The crazy thing is even having that expectation that you can answer any question so quickly. It almost gives the impression that the internet is infinite somehow, when it is really finite.

And you know, even those questions to which I CAN find the answer don't give me the same satisfaction they used to. I mean, a couple minutes searching is nothing. Monkey's work.

So now I go low-tech when I really must solve something. I actually will pick up the phone and call someone if I have a question that I can't answer. And there is a little satisfaction in that. Until everyone starts putting all their collective knowledge into a database. Then where will I be?

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