Researching and Writing in the Digital Age

Within the digital age, the question for finding resources is not if the source exists or is attainable, it is finding what is valuable among millions of available resources. According to a study from the University of California at Berkeley, 5 exabytes (10^18 bytes of data is created online a year, and considering one megabyte is the size of a traditional book, it seems like there is an almost infinite supply of information available at our fingertips. But just like a mechanic, the tools do not make a person skilled, it is how they utilize them. Unfortunately, there is still some disconnect between available resources and practices to using them (Weller, 64).

Considering the source of the information will always be a focal point for both digital and analog sources. There has always been author bias, whether it is intended or not, so researchers must balance perspectives from similar time periods through multiple sources. Utilizing sources beyond written ones also gives perspective to patterns, movement, trends, and location. Rosenzweig discusses that implementation of 3-D mapping in the digital age adds an even deeper perspective and interactivity to research (Rosenzweig, 24).

Interactivity is a large contribution that the digital age provides when researching history. Rosenzweig states that “Some kinds of visualizations such as time series are inherently historical because they show change over time”(21). Researchers can easily compare information from multiple time periods and eras to investigate change in the digital age. Also, digitization allows for easy categorization, organization, key word searches/omitted terms, and easily transferable information.

There are still merits to analog sources as well. With students gravitating more and more to digital research, they may neglect to even venture into a library (Weller, 65). While massive amounts of information is being digitized, we cannot assume that everything we need is easily found online. Many digital sources, especially secondary sources, still rely on using analog primary sources which still places value in visiting libraries, museums, and historical societies.

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