December 01, 2006

Scholarship and the Internet

Its fascinating to see the effect that the internet is already having on research. The ability of historians now to find and look at their sources online or even to photograph them using digital cameras and look at them on a screen at home instead of reading them in a library. The ability of scientists, as described here to video their experiments, thereby making them easier to replicate on the internet. One imagines a future where instead of footnotes, the internet versions of articles will contain hyperlinks to sources of information, allowing the reader to instantly and simply check what he is reading against the sources of information or experiments it relies upon.


Anonymous said...

Good point Gracchus but there is also the interesting issue of the ease of citation causing people to feel that they have to reference everything and that every argument they advance should have been at least nodded at before in another previous article. Interestingly reading older PhD theses the number of references is delightfully low with whole theses haveing perhaps 30-50 references. My MPhil had 150. I find myself wondering if the desire to cite actually reduces the likelihood of constructing novel (and unprecedented) arguments and hence leading to thinner, duller research. Or perhaps it's just me...B

Gracchi said...

Ah sir, yes I do think that that danger exists as wll as the danger of people specialising so much that they actually say little of any interest and lose the ability to adventure.

I think the overall trend is for the good though- the fact I can find for my pathetic ramblings a bit of Augustine within a few clicks on the net shows the possibilities out there.