From ink to email, technology changes the way we work in unexpected ways

In keeping with the storytelling theme, this recent NPR story discusses how technology has dramatically changed the work of biographers, as well as historians and others who do research on other people’s lives. When was the last time you used snail mail? How would your biographer, or great-grandchildren, learn about your day to day life? Will you pass on your secret list of passwords as you would a cherished box of letters?

 For Biographers, The Past Is An Open (Electronic) Book

“For centuries, biographers have relied on letters to bring historical figures to life, whether Gandhi or Catherine the Great. But as people switch from writing on paper to documenting their lives electronically, biographers are encountering new benefits — and new challenges. Read or listen to the story.

Of course, the flip side is that more data than ever before is collected about us and stored somewhere and that has created loads of new careers for people who know how to gather, analyze, and make meaning out of big data. This New York Time’s article, Big Data’s Impact in the World discusses some really interesting jobs in big data that have an exciting impact on the world.

While students writing theses will continue visiting archives to pour over yellowed parchment, it’s a good idea to learn more about managing and analyzing the ever growing amount of electronic data (like my email inbox!) To learn more about using digital information in your scholarly, professional or personal lives, check out Haverford Library’s Digital Literary page.