There are many things I love about my job, but something I enjoy like you have no idea, is when you do research. Sure, there's not-fun-research like when you have to tap uncooperating targets that won't even help you actually wrap around the topic, but there are others where the information is available, like public documents and so. Not everybody likes to do this, but I love it, and thus I was exhilarated when my latest assignment entailed following leads. Well, it was desired we would do some lead-following, but I took it to heart and tried to clear up as much as possible. In the end my effort was rewarded greatly as many things got explained and others opened doors to further inoperancies.
A coworker of mine was assigned as well to the project, and to my dismay, she didn't seem to look forward to this kind of research. How could that be?
Back in the days when I was in University, we used to hit the major data-gathering institutions for the information we needed for our homeworks and team projects. Places such as the Central Bank (similar to the Fed), the National Institute of Statistics and Census, the General Controller of the Republic, several service regulators and industrial cameras for information. Sometimes we even visited the companies and institutions we were researching from information, such as the time we visited on several occasions the Oil Refinery. At first we didn't get much of the structure of the information, but by pressing our noses to the ledgers we slowly got the hang of it, and the working of the different institutions and companies became transparent for us. Also, getting information, gathering data was tied to legwork. Perhaps it had something to do the fact that the Internet was still quite new, and public institutions usually drag last in the embracing of the technology, but for us the information we could get online was just a scrap very poor to get out researches done.
For me, going back to one of these places was like walking into a memory. The days when I was dressed always in jeans, sneakers and big tees, when I didn't wear make-up at all and cut my own hair. My friends and classmates were my team, and all of us worked equally hard for the paper we had to do. Leaning over the heavy documents, having them xeroxed only to keep scrutinizing them, turning words and figures over and over to get to the root of things.
My coworker, from a much fresher generation, stepped now for the first time into one of these places - due to this work - and was shocked at the experience. No digital copies, only heavy paper ledgers bounded in cardboard and screw contraptions her modern vision of the world never knew. She decided not to come back ever again.
The world has, indeed, been evolving and with it the appreciation of it and the way people grasp it. The information, the real and complete information is supposed to be on the net, not out of it, and it seems that the information you find on it is - and should be! - enough. But is it?
The world turns slowly to the minimum effort, to the cybernetic media, and the shallow, fleeting things clutter the space. The pile up, pretend to be things, but are only that: a pretention. Things simply try to "look like" what they should be, but they are not, and no one seems to care to make sure they are what they intend to be. After all, everybody lives in the mediocre-philosophy, and are too busy reading 500 e-mails a day, four e-magazines and 20 e-news. You are busy tweeting, updating your facebook, reading blogs, so you can't really follow up, verify the veracity of the information you receive, but expect it to be right, or to someone to take responsability if it is not. And besides, if it's not real, you won't need it in five minutes, so it doesn't matter if it's wrong.
This is how the most abhorrent mistakes and omisions happen, things that wouldn't happen if people actually did the legwork, did their job, did checked the information. So, in the end, could it be that - in the name of commodity - the world is willing to accept a deep plung in quality?
No legwork, the Internet is just enough... but not for me.