I’m sure we all have a few embarrassing searches in our past. Let’s just hope no one releases a study on it… oh, wait.
I use google everyday, most often for personal uses. When it’s time for a paper, though, the googling kicks into hyperdrive. In fact, I just googled “hyperdrive” to see if it’s correct to combine it into one word rather than spell it “hyper drive.” Leary’s discussion about determining the meaning of “please to remember the grotto” is one I can relate to when dealing with primary sources. For instance, I came across the term “locofoco” in several Civil War accounts, and from the context I thought it was being used as some insulting term (like a 19th century equivalent to calling someone a fruitloop or something), but I couldn’t determine it’s exact meaning. So, hi Google! Hello, locofoco! The term on it’s own describes a radical faction of the Democratic Party, but the accounts I was reading were using it very negatively. Obviously, this was not some great and meaningful find, but it still certainly enlightened me and made the primary documents I was reading a little more clear.
However, I don’t think I agree with Leary’s “offline penumbra,” the idea that having online access to historical sources will lead to everyday folks and scholars avoiding offline research. He suggests that students now do most of their research online. Maybe I’m just behind in the times, but I don’t find that to be true at all. I think a fair amount of research can be done online, but for me it’s something that often leads me to the actual printed version. Maybe it’s just a personal preference, but I still feel more comfortable with a book in my hands rather than the digitized version on a screen in front of me. In some ways I feel like I have less freedom when it’s online, aside from the searching capabilities. Though that could be I don’t go around with a netbook or some such. The offline penumbra also suggests to me a sense of laziness about ‘dem young folk, and I’m not sure I like that commentary on my habits. Sure, it’s true about some things, but I try not to let it extend to my researching.
Anyway, on the project: I must say that I’m much more happy with it. We’ve got a theme that looks much better, and there doesn’t seem to be the need for a whole lot of clicking just to get to the actual material. I’ve virtually finished my section on women’s roles, though I still have work to do on the profiles. I feel much less stressed now that there’s more content up on the site.