Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Milly: PhD PhindingDistraction (worst title so far)

(First in a series of blog posts written in response to this New Yorker article In Praise of Distraction)

I spend most of my time at work in the biology department running experiments, writing or just thinking. Due to the never ending list of things I have to do, but would rather not, I’m easily distracted. The internet is probably my worst enemy.

Today I found myself and a friend searching for socks in various different animal shapes. Our favourite were a pair of shark socks that look like they’re eating your legs...once again I am distracted.

Since the development of the internet, a PhD student like me no longer needs to spend hours in the library searching through books of abstracts and reading whole journals to get to the necessary information. With one click of a button I can search the entire web and I am rewarded within 0.7 seconds (so I’m told by Google).

But does this make us more efficient? Do I miss interesting journals and relevant papers because I’m not spending these hours in the library? The lure of the internet is often too much and I find myself bombarded with useless information.

I don’t think I could go back now I’ve used things like Web of Knowledge, Google Scholar and Mendeley (a bit like facebook for scientists) for so long. It seems we have entered a new era of researching….

Posted by Milly.

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