Evil Dewey Decimal

July 27th, 2012

I often wonder if kids today are getting smarter by leaps and bounds over where I was at their age. I look at all the projects being pulled together by my high-schooler acquaintances and I get overwhelmed. The work they do is so involved and often on a professional level. I find it confusing and daunting. I don’t think I could ever get into college today. It makes me feel like, ‘What the heck was I doing during that time?’ I wasn’t doing that, so was I wasting precious learning time?

Then, the other day, it hit me. The internet makes tasks like research, which were once laborious, much easier. It used to be that research — from start to finish — was hard. One needed a ride to the library. One needed an understanding of how to even find the books. (The Dewey Decimal System was an evil, evil plan –  thank goodness for all the understanding librarians of my school days.) One needed the books to be in said library and not checked out by the valedictorian-to-be. One needed a seemingly endless supply of dimes, because photocopying cost a dime a page. Research that took me hours can now be done in minutes.

And forget about including things like graphs in your work. For that you also needed to be an art student in order to draw out the graphs by hand.

So now it suddenly makes sense that students have to do so much more. Their tools are so much better. It’s the same in the office for me: every year expectations go up, because every year certain tasks become easier to do. Things that used to take hours now take minutes. Since the workday is still eight hours, the amount of work increases.

Technology is your friend, use it well. We are so lucky to live in an era where information is at our fingertips (literally). Think about how much neat research you can do in seconds. Not long ago I saw an interview with Betty Garret and five minutes later I was acquainted with some of the details of her fascinating life. If I can find one, I will order up a biography on iTunes.




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Our Friends Say
  1. Becky says:

    I agree Mary. Although, I no longer work as a professional photographer, I use my art school skills every day. The technology tools make it easier to create visual presentations that look professional and I find people expecting more. I remember accompanying my grandmother who was a historian in the pre-internet days on research excursions to dig up details about long-dead individuals. It was quite a treasure hunt through libraries, towns, and cemetaries. I admit I miss the adventure of the journey and the unrelated discoveries along the way. Nonetheless, I do enjoy the bits and bytes at my fingertips!

  2. crystal says:

    I appreciated this post. In high school I worked at the library and learned the Dewey Decimal System, in college I worked in the library with the Library of Congress and now I work at Smith College and I concur, the students seem to be much smarter today!

    Even though technology is amazing and of course we could not even think about living without it, I do love checking a book out every once and a while!


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