Teen: Writing a research paper without the Internet is hard
My guest is Adam Turay, a 17-year-old senior at South County Secondary School in Fairfax County. He is editor-in-chief of his school paper, The Courier, is a member of his school's "It's Academic" team and plays guitar and keyboards in a rock band. His last guest appearance on The Sheet was about Facebook and the different cultures between teen and older users.
By Adam Turay
In May of this year, I was a junior in high school. That is to say I was overworked, undernourished, beleaguered with homework, and perpetually exhausted. It was late, and I was trying to put together the first draft for a research paper.
The assignment had an important stipulation, and it proved to be an unexpected roadblock; along with the essay, I was supposed to turn in a detailed bibliography and I couldn’t use any electronic sources.
This turned out to be much harder than expected. I was so used to information being just a few keystrokes away that reverting back to the antiquated medium of “the book” was actually a little challenging. At a little past midnight, I was stuck combing through pages of tiny print, sorely missing the Ctrl+F function. Simply put, I wasn’t used to doing research out of a book the “old-fashioned way.”
People look things up online like it’s second nature. Between Google and Wikipedia, it seems like the answer to any fathomable question anyone can be find online within a matter of seconds, and this has probably made everyone a whole lot lazier.
Spending an afternoon at the library with print encyclopedias seems almost outdated, and that’s almost regrettable. There’s something more authentic about doing research that way.
Studying over the Internet is very distracting; there are so many different ways to get sidetracked that it almost seems inefficient. If I learned anything from staying up until the early morning, it’s that there are actually a few merits to those dusty old encyclopedias.
That’s not to say that I’ve stopped using search engines lieu of textbooks, because I haven’t and you shouldn’t either. Internet research has so many advantages over the print encyclopedia that it’s no wonder the latter has turned virtually archaic.
Honestly, outside of situations like my aforementioned assignment, there are few foreseeable circumstances in which one could actually say encyclopedias are more efficient than their online alternatives.
It’s always important to use discretion when weeding out sources, (even the most reputable sources can prove erroneous; the Wikipedia-John Seigenthaler Fiasco is a prime example, but the Internet has created a sort of search engine culture, where knowledge is widely accessible, and this is probably for the better.
| November 12, 2009; 10:04 AM ET
Tags: Internet, books, studying
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