Dr Alison Campbell is an associate dean and a senior lecturer in biological sciences at the University of Waikato.
My life as a researcher before Google? Well, it began even before the internet was really a thing.
It saw me spending a lot of time in the actual (as opposed to virtual) University Library.
Anyone doing research way back then needed to access hard-copy books and journals, and use great, thick volumes of catalogues (rather than the wonderful online databases available to us today).
Of course, the library didn’t carry every journal or text that might be relevant, which meant that we also needed to fill in interloan requests that were posted or faxed off to other institutions.
And in due course the book or paper we were after would turn up — in the post.
In this far-off time at the start of my career, personal computers were also not a thing.
So my colleagues and I would write our notes and articles in longhand (with a fountain pen, in my case!) and get them typed up.
Similarly, edits were in pen(cil) on paper — a far cry from today’s Office toolkit and
the joys of online editing. And when out in the field, paper maps — and the skills to read them — were indispensable.
Our ability today to use Google maps is a godsend — as much for navigating the perils of the Auckland rush-hour en route to a meeting, as for using GIS to find the precise location of a sample site.
So, Google and the technologies behind it has become a useful academic tool. For those of us who are also teachers, it’s a mixed blessing — there is so much content, of hugely variable quality and validity, and so it’s essential to help students learn how to navigate that morass of information successfully. And I do wonder how we’d manage if Google (and the internet) were to disappear overnight.
Alison Campbell in a far-off time.