Researching in Today’s World

One day, on a break at work, I started pulling my thoughts together for an essay I want to write about family stories from World War II. I was still in the preliminary phase. I’d started a handwritten introductory paragraph. I’d also pulled my notes from when I’d talked to my dad’s cousin four years ago. I had a general idea of a few stories she mentioned from war time, but I needed to go back and re-read my notes to make sure I was remembering correctly. And also, to see if I’d forgotten a tidbit or two!

As I was jotting topic ideas in the margin, trying to organize my ideas so they’d flow naturally, a few questions came to mind.

What years was World War II fought? I know early ‘40’s, but never seem to remember the exact years.

What year was Pearl Harbor bombed? December 7th is ingrained in my mind, but not the year.

As I re-read my notes, I saw a mention about how Dorothy read ten books at the library’s summer reading program and won tickets to go see Bambi. The second movie shown was Union Pacific. She hadn’t mentioned any year, or how old she was, and I wasn’t where it fell in the wartime memories she was sharing. One thing I’ve noticed as I try to collect family stories is that they don’t follow a timeline very well. Memories and thoughts seem to jump around. When was Bambi released? When was Union Pacific released?

There questions needed answered before I started getting into the meat of the essay, but I was sitting in my car on a break, miles from my computer or a local library. So out came the phone, I opened a browser and started typing away.

The war was fought from 1939-1945. Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. Bambi was released August 13, 1942. Union Pacific was released 4/27/1939.

Wow! In less than three minutes I had the answers I needed and could start crafting the skeleton of the essay. Ten years ago, I would have had to be at home, connected to a computer. Twenty or twenty-five years ago I would have had to have a set of encyclopedias or make a trip to the library. And now, with a few swipes and taps, I can pull up unlimited information to answer just about any question I have.

When I’m at a family gathering or a social event and see all the faces buried in their phones, I gripe quite a bit about technology and what it has done to our world. But you know, I may have to take some of those grumbles back, because this handy access sure is useful too!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    Apr 25, 2022 @ 11:12:43

    I remember having to do research pre-Google and I don’t miss the paper cuts!

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: R

    Reply

  2. timsbrannan
    Apr 26, 2022 @ 00:02:48

    I remember going to college and using a card catalog my Freshman year. Within a few years, those were all gone and replaced by computers.
    I tell my kids this and they look at me like I am crazy,


    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side | The A of Z of Conspiracy Theories

    Reply

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