NYTimes.com essay - Looking It Up, No Keyboard Required


kctipton writes "The NYTimes today has a lighthearted essay by someone I suspect is a closet librarian. Here's an excerpt:

Suddenly I felt sad. The Internet is not where you look up everything. Dictionaries and thesauri and encyclopedias and books on modern usage are where you look up everything. How are you going to stumble upon an illustration of a prickly pear cactus or learn that it has yellow flowers, except by thumbing through a dictionary in search of "prom"?

I have raised three daughters who are reference-book-impaired. They look up everything online and as a result have a tenuous grasp of the finer points of alphabetical order. They are far too easy to beat at Scrabble, having never tripped over useful two-letter words like "ai" while en route to looking up something else.

I told my husband that we had failed as parents.

Here's the link."


I sort of stumbed upon this picture and information about a prickly pear plant while reading a Library news site (now you will stumble upon it, too):


You can stumble upon information in different ways rather than alphabetical order on the Internet; the author seems to imply you'll never learn anything interesting. I think the grander issue is making sure people learn/realize what is a trusted source, what is biased, and what is completely unreliable.