2/17 | Digital Sources

What are the advantages and disadvantages of digitized documents for researchers? Does your use of digital material reduce your environmental footprint?

There are multiple pros and cons to getting information from digitized documents. The obvious pro would be accessibility and convenience. It’s very easy for you to go into your Google search bar and look up a document or name of a historical figure and get bombarded with 450,000 search matches. The con of this is weeding out which one is actually the information you need, and which ones are just fluff. The reason why so many searches seem to create more unwanted information than wanted is because of ‘tags’. Tags are specific to online searches only, so if you want to avoid them, its best to stick to books and written documents.

Tags are used to help you find information through things like Google and Bing easier. For example, if I make a Tumblr blog post about Beyonce, I would add tags to the post like ‘Beyonce’, ‘Destinys Child’, ‘Jay Z’, ‘Rocafeller’, etc. You get the idea. Many times, people will add tags to their blogs and pictures that have absolutely nothing to do with the post, but they know that this is a popular internet search and that adding this tag will potentially lead to more viewers. What does this mean for researchers? It means that a plethora of their searches done online will warrant more fluff than actual info. And for someone who is not well-versed in research, especially not historical research, I could easily search for an image of a historical figure and choose the wrong person because SO many searches that do not fit what I have typed in, will pop up.

Honestly, I am unsure if my use of digital material truly reduces my environmental footprint. I usually do most of my research and homework on my computer, but I have just recently started doing all of my note taking on my computer so I feel like my technology usage has increased ten fold, and I don’t think that using this much electricity everyday is a good reduction of my carbon footprint. But if we had to compare the amount of paper that I used in my previous college years just due to note taking and studying alone, using my computer more has definitely saved the environment in my eyes.


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