09 March 2009

O brave new world!

In just a few years, the amount of digitized information has increased vastly. It used to be that I had to go to specialized academic sites to do certain kinds of research; prior to about three years ago, I had to look things up in reference works that major research libraries have, but which are not always available at libraries such as that of LRU (which really is quite good and I'm not complaining, since ILL is excellent---but non-circulating reference works can sometimes throw up road blocks).

But now, a simple internet search for Johannes Doughe comes up with huge tracts of references. Some of it I have already discovered the old-fashioned way; some of it is incomplete compared to what I have already (etc); anything new I will of course check through traditional sources. But what a time-saver to have some idea where to look, and what a delight to have pictures.

My off-hand little project because I had to keep the NEH happy is, I think, something that could take up the rest of my scholarly life, if I let it. I have no intention of letting it, not least because it's out of my period and I want to get back to being a proper medievalist, so I have to figure out how to lop it off in some fairly tidy fashion.

But hot damn, you early modernists can know a lot about your people. Now back in the mid-evil period, we have to . . . no, wait, I did my old-fart post a few days ago.

2 comments:

Moria said...

"But hot damn, you early modernists can know a lot about your people."

... I have a whole complex about it. There's a class of us who are young farts -- who've had it drilled into us that the work isn't worthwhile unless we're all going Parsifal on the archives. Even stodgy databases can feel like cheating.

It doesn't take much resisting - largely because that view is total nonsense - but there's always the moment of guilt.

(I also come out strongly in favor of the creation of a database complementary to EEBO of Early English Manuscripts Online, not least because it acronyms as EEMO.)

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

So long as you check your work, I see no reason to feel guilty. If digitizers & genealogy buffs want to make my life easier, I'll just say thank you. It does take a little of the fun out of the search, when it's that easy. But at least you know straight away what archives you have to go to, and why---makes it much easier to write grant applications.