Just a minor epiphany
I'm gearing up a new book project on African global perspectives during the era of the Cold War. Today I've been looking into the exchange of musical forms between West Africa and the wider Atlantic World. And, well... it's just been EASY. I mean, really easy, to do the basic research. Between JSTOR and Amazon, I've downloaded a couple of dozen articles and have a dozen or so books on the way. Even with being lazy and buying the books (instead of getting them via interlibrary loan), it is costing me less than a one-day expedition to the nearest well stocked African Studies library. I'm glad that I've been at this business long enough to have undertaken research in the era of printed bibliographies and card catalogs, just so I know how good I've got it now. I've noticed this dynamic before, mind you, but today it just hit home extra hard. The sort of things I'm looking up are not terribly well researched, but they are yielding to my boolean logic with minimal effort. And I like it that way. It makes it so much easier to be a productive scholar AND help my four-year-old daughter produce her own book on fairies at the same time.
So, sorry, Card Catalog. Your polished wood was beautiful... the worn edges of your cards had a certain tattered charm... but as a research tool, you left much to be desired.
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