I remember a time before the internet (yes, I am that old!) when research was a relatively simple process. You went to the library and looked through the catalogue. Notes in hand you were usually able to find some information. It may have been short blurb in an encyclopedia or if luck should have it an entire book or chapter.
What followed were encyclopedias on CD-rom and permission to travel to larger regional libraries. My access to information grew to beyond my neighborhood. This was of course in my early high school years during the emergence of the internet.
Our household was the first in my community to get internet access. Those first forays into research were exciting times. If my memory serves, the first family search was in a medical database. What occurred was a leap from suburb town to city to the WORLD. It was exhilarating!! I readily absorbed it all and quested for more knowledge.
Fast forward to today. The thirst is still there. Every time I come across an unknown species or a query from my mind or that of my curious child: I want to know. Many things have changed since those long ago days of flipping through pages. In my tiny jungle home I have a few reference tomes. But, pretty much my main source of new information is at the tip of my thumbs. For the past year and a half we have permitted ourselves limited internet access.
This window into the world has given us some great information. It has allowed us to confirm scientific names of the new plants we have encountered. Also being able to corroborate folkloric uses of some of the medicinal plants had been invaluable. There is an abundance of information. At times an overabundance.
Going back to those early days keywords were important. You could also be sufficiently vague on the exactitude and still stumble on the correct published information. No such luck with the internet. Take for example my latest search. I wanted to find out more about some seed pods we had gathered. I of course had the pods and even the seeds. What started as something simple, to my researcher mind, turned into a convoluted thumb swishing adventure. I got lost in the internet rabbit hole.
What ticks me off most is that in compared with books I feel as though I have learnt very little. I saw dozens and dozens of images and words. Not much stuck, in a sense thankfully, as the source of most details online can be doubtful. What is frustrating is you no longer get anywhere quickly by being vague or uncertain. What used to lead to increased knowledge is reduced to fluff. Give it a try: I dare you to type amazon and find something about the geographical location, a HUGE place, on the first page of results. However, you may be tempted to buy something with free shipping!!
There is a silver lining though. I did stumble on an amazing resource. A rabbit hole I am eager to plunge head first down. There is a website called fieldguides.fieldmuseum.org where I found heaps of guides, all downloadable for free. Not only did this allow me to confirm my tree (the pretty purple flowered one I have always love) but many other plants. You guessed it I’ll be filing up some storage space with these beauties. The best part was showing my daughter one of the seed field guides. She picked out a whole bunch she finds on her walks. We will be able to find out what she is planting! The research has just begun!!💜