Really reading anything is such a rare luxury in my work. I make a distinction between reading and skimming text. I sometimes think of myself as an information junkie because I seem to spend most of my day rummaging through texts of all kinds to find the particular information which I need. There is no time to linger, or critically consider an argument. I get what I need, and then I need to move on to find my next hit.
I’ve observed a few things about this state of mind:
- There is no such thing as information overload. It’s just more stuff to deal with. I feel as if I have broken through a certain pain barrier and now feel things differently.
- My favourite thing to do on the computer is press Control F.
- I prefer online text because it is crunchable (analogous to what number crunchers do with numbers) and flexible.
- When I work with print text, and sometimes I must, there are definite rules and processes which must be followed to find information – using indices, charts and tables of contents. Those processes seem at odds with the type of thinking I use when doing my best research of online sources.
The interesting thing is that research is not always like this, and I’m not always like this. Sometimes I need to switch focus, from the macro to the micro. One moment I might be weeding out large numbers of irrelevant cases or articles which were retrieved by my narrow but imperfect search. In the next moment, I need to switch focus onto particular paragraph to see if it’s really saying anything useful about this abstruse legal principle.
I like working in this micro focus, but there doesn’t seem as much need for it on most days. That’s why I’m trying to see the good in the macro focus – being an information junkie.