Saturday, February 20, 2010

Can I Marry Technology? Please?

Yes, I know I said earlier that I would not be posting anything but pictures today. That was before I spent two hours buried up to my neck in documents. I need some air for a few minutes!

I am hopelessly, desperately, head-over-heels in love with technology. Perhaps this is odd behavior for a history major, particularly one who prefers records to CDs, but that's just part of my contradictory and quirky charm, I suppose.

Consider the different items currently bringing joy to my life:

"Mackie" (my Macbook) - By far the best computer I have ever owned, Mackie has never shut down unexpectedly, never crashed, never deleted anything I didn't want deleted, never caught a virus . . . in short, Mackie has never done anything that the PCs I owned in the past did. Mackie downloads at the speed of light, checks my spelling and grammar on every program that I use, and lets me open as many windows as I want without slowing down. Mackie is my cherished friend, who would never do anything to inconvenience, hurt, or annoy me. Mackie is trustworthy.

Firefox and Safari - Two fabulous web browsers, each with their own special place in my heart. Safari is fast, so user-friendly that it practically kisses you when you open it, and fully customizable. My Safari browser knows my every like and dislike, protects me from ads, and gives me full details every time that I download something. My Firefox browser has awesome add-ons, is also fully customizable, gladly remembers passwords for me, and cheerfully assists me with research. Like Safari, Firefox knows how much ads annoy me, so it gleefully blocks them all!

Zotero - A wonderful-beyond-wonderful add-on for Firefox, Zotero organizes sources quickly and does my citations for me now, allowing me the luxury of putting far less effort into writing citations.

Pandora - At first I resisted, but after so many of my friends recommended it, I had to join. Pandora custom designs personal radio stations for me, based on only the style of music that I like - even analyzing elements of my preferred styles of music in order to offer me songs and artists that I have not yet heard. And best of all, Pandora does it all for free!

ebrary - My days of haggling for inter-library loans and bemoaning the paucity of sources at Liberty's library are now over at last! ebrary (it's supposed to be all in lowercase, for those who may gleefully believe that they have caught me in an error) has thousands upon millions of sources available online, full-text. I can read entire books on it! It's like netlibrary, a former love of mine, on steroids!

Book Hunter - This is an app that I downloaded for Mackie from the Apple site. It allows me to catalog all of my books, including library books, in an organized, easy-to-search format. If I give it nothing but a title, it finds all the publication info on each book, plus a photo of the cover. I can insert a location for each book, so now finding any one of my books is a piece of cake.

Some things, like movies and music, reached their golden age many years ago; and the older versions are nearly always better than the new. For the computer and all these deliciously delightful apps and add-ons; conversely, the best is yet to come! I can't wait to see what research tools will be at my disposal in ten years. These gifts come with a caution - we must not allow technology to make us stupider. Too much dependence on a good thing, like spellcheck, can result in lazier, stupider people. For example, texting and IMing are killing the writing skills of young people today.

So, we must use these technological gifts wisely. While I adore the new research tools and options, I am careful not to completely abandon the old ways. While I let Zotero help me out with citations, I do so with a complete knowledge of how to do Turabian formatting. If zotero (Heaven forbid!) ever made a citation error, I would be able to recognize and correct it. If I lost all these blessings of modern technology (you know, like in the event of China wiping out American computers with a massive virus), I would still be able to function quite well. I would be despondent, but I could still get by adequately.

Time to get back to work - researching on ebrary, using Firefox, with Pandora serenading me in the background and Safari running a simultaneous search on Google Scholar. Who needs a man when they have technology?! (That was a joke, people. Put down the pitchforks!)

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"