The Web has lost me the ability to read.

A part of my current job is to do research for my boss. Sometimes the research is fun, and completely irrelevant, sparked by fancy or perhaps the urge to hone my research skills (such as “Stacey, please find out what kind of weaponry Genghis Khan used from the back of his little pony”). At other times, the research is actually relevant (“Stacey, please look at the Cambridge Associates website for information on securities lending – I want to find out how it works”). Most often, it involves the web rather than the library and I’m very, very good at it. I take pride in my research skills, because it’s one of the things I do that a trained monkey couldn’t do, and therefore makes me feel special. At least specialer than a trained monkey.

Unfortunately my current research project is less than fulfilling.  I’m supposed to be finding one particular line in one of two books.  The table of contents and indices of both books thus far have been less than helpful.  Scanning pages has yielded nothing as yet.  I’m pretty much stumped.  And I’ve also realized how lazy I’ve become.

When I was growing up, in high school and middle school, research meant going to the library and getting books.  The you read, or at least skimmed the books to find the material you needed.  Tables of contents and indices were  key in finding the correct material and analyzing the value of a particular resource.  And I used to be able to do all that well, and fast.  But now, I’m not so sure.  Now, I’ve gotten accustomed to online resources with ‘find’ options within the text and a wide array of summaries and abstracts readily available.  Have I lost my touch?  Or is it only natural to get frustrated with old methods of research that are less efficient?

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