sunnuntai 12. helmikuuta 2012

Digital archives - practical and efficient?

Hello again!
The topic for the lecture in Digital cultures in humanities this week was digitisation of archives and texts. I understand it's a very tiresome and slow process, but very important, nonetheless. Although, I still have my doubts about it - about digitising big archives. Yes, several important works can then be displayed for people online, internationally, but still I guess I like the consistency a solid book represents. I suppose many others my own ages might feel confused and uncertain about the digitising process - after all, we've all grown up browsing through books, some more dusty than the others. With the constant fear of computers systems crashing and erasing all that valuable material of yours, I suppose there's that nagging little feeling in the back of your head suggesting, that this could also be a potential threat for bigger, better organised and secure digital archives as well. When I hold a real, hard cover book in my hands I don't have to dread its disappearance or destruction in the same manner as digital information.

Digitisation has its good points, which for me are mostly associated to online publications, magazines and entire e-books. Nowadays e-books and online publications have become a an important part of studies at the university and here to stay. The digital publications offer access to works, which would otherwise remain unreachable for several reasons (like those bloody books on Gender Studies, which are always hogged by other students and kept by them for an eternity. Or at least long enough for me to not be able to obtain those before the exam, which requires those books in question. Annoying...).

Nelli-portaali is one of these web portals, which offer e-books and publications, which I find really helpful and practical for studies. It also helps staying in touch with research abroad, as you can find a load of internationally published academical dissertations and doctoral thesis. Albeit it requires that you're a student at some of the Finnish universities and have a uni-password to access the page, I still find it very practical and helpful, as it is free of charge. Few people feel tempted to buy an entire e-book, despite the potential low price, just in order to read an article or such. Therefore I consider the Nelli portal a very valuable resource.

There is the growing realisation which we have to deal with; that the digital archives are growing constantly and that they're a huge part of our reality, especially within the academic world, just like normal books. I refuse, however, to believe that e-books and online publications will completely replace the existence of good, old solid books. Sure, it's easier to bring e-books with you (if you own some kind of device suitable for displaying it, laptop e.g.) anywhere you go and you can sit home on your butt instead of dragging yourself to a library somewhere supposedly far away (well, it seems really far away if you're lazy like me 8D!). For me books are not old relics of an archaic life - rather they are just as compatible and practical as digital publications. Yay for books!

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