My Research in Year 2112!!!

I am one of those people who make paper copies of almost everything and prefer pen and paper to screen and keyboard. (Yes, those people still exist in the 21st century!). As I am conducting research and writing my draft for this course’s research paper, all of my sources, all of the items that are up for consideration as sources, course notes, etc. are printed on hard copy. I dislike reading from computer screens, especially really long documents like journal articles. I even begin assignments by writing the drafts on paper. It isn’t very efficient but it lets me get my work done without hurting my eyes from staring at the screen. I’m also somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to school stuff. I have boxes and boxes of binders, notebooks etc. spanning from grade school to now. To put it simply, I keep everything. If a digital source was to disappear, and I used it in a paper, it would be in hard copy in a binder in a box somewhere in my parents’ basement. (Admittedly my retrieval system is terrible). How would I guarantee that others reading my article, say in the year 2112, have access to them? How would I ensure that my research materials, specifically digital materials, are preserved?

 

There is an extremely unlikely scenario in which I make some great discovery, become incredibly famous, and get featured at a museum like the Smithsonian so that interested parties can flip through my copious notes and binders, getting access to all of my printed sources. Since this is pretty much delusional, let me think of a more realistic scenario.

 

For a more realistic scenario…. I don’t have a good answer. Let’s say I cite a journal article by John Doe. How do I have any control over who decides to keep that article by John Doe in their databases until the year 2112? Although the results returned show that these databases have tons of space, there is also tons of content being created every single second of every day. The company’s database where I found the source could fold. Some kind of dictatorship could forbid certain subjects from being discussed (hey, we’re talking about 2112 – who knows what will happen!). The most basic problem is that we are all dead in the long-run (as Lord Keynes would say) and have no real control over anything!

 

The blogging question that was posed has made me aware for the first time of how vulnerable we are when it comes to information disappearing. Links become inactive, blogs and websites get edited, tweets get deleted, etc. Somewhere out there there may be a record of everything, however the average person wouldn’t know how to access that. I look forward to reading my fellow blog members’ posts so I can have a better answer to these questions!

 

Camille Johnson

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “My Research in Year 2112!!!

  1. Hey Camille,

    You raise such an interesting point. If you reference a plurality of scholars, and these scholars works are not preserved, but yours is, does this result in less validity and reliability? So much of scholarly work relies on other literature (even our literature reviews)… If that literature isn’t preserved, it can be detrimental to the research that relied so strongly upon it.

    Victoria Grant

  2. vangorpb

    I had a Prof who specialized in human machine interaction and cyborg theories. She demanded that we print out all of our course readings for the year. I think I went through three or four toner cartridges during that semester. That being said, it was very useful because it forced you to confront readings and gave you a place to annotate and write in the margins rather than just ignore it.
    I just wish it wasn’t so expensive.

    • Thank you for your comments, Victoria and Ben.

      Victoria – You bring to light an important (potential) issue: if we are heavily citing and building upon other researchers’ work (i.e., other sources’), will our work lose credibility if those sources are not accessible? Using many sources could prevent this but sometimes there aren’t many sources on the topic, particularly if it’s a new phenomenon or if the researcher is taking a novel approach/position.

      I agree about the cost factor when it comes to ink, Ben!! That will definitely be my reason to switch to “working on the screen” if I ever manage to do so! Hard copy is great to insert comments exactly where you want to on the page, or to use different coding methods (e.g., I use different colour highlighters, check marks, X’s, etc). However, perhaps some computer programs can do this (?) I am not knowledgeable enough to know about that!

      -Camille

      • annastandish

        Yeah, lots of computer programs now include editing and annotating features. Preview, the mac adobe acrobat (and other image-type file) reader that I’m used to using has a whole toolbox from multicoloured highlighting to pop-up comments. It’s all super useful – except (and here I join the chorus lamenting how expensive toner is!) I find that I don’t read and absorb information in the same way off a screen as I do with paper in my hands. I don’t know what it is – there must be research out there on this, which I’m sure Ben’s prof must have been familiar with…

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