Thursday, December 8, 2011

Better than Google!

I wouldn't be the first to admit that up until coming to college. most of my research papers started and ended with a Google search. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing to use the web to find resources, I mean that's what the web is for. But this semester, I've learned that the library tops google any day.

My thesis basically argues the concept that the publication of visual arts had a more profound effect on society than print. although, both are important, there are some ideas that can only be communicated efectively through pictures. I focused on the the subject areas of Medicine and Art History.

With Medicine, I specifically cited the illustrations of Andreas Vesalius, who was key in revolutionizing anatomy during the Scientific Revolution. The chief advantage of his illustrations were that they were active depcitions of the human body, rather than motionless prostrate figures. He was able to show how the musclcular and skeletal systmes functioned as a whole. Once he got published, scientists all across Europe could see his discoveries and collaborate more efficiently.

Even more interesting was John Stephan, who was in charge of engraving woodcuts that precisely matched Vesalius' illustrations. What's amazing to me is that Stephan had to recreate these illustrations without looking a copy of the original. In other words, he had to rely on written descriptions of what Vesalius wanted the picture to look like. Stephan rose to the challenge and created surprisingly accurate illustrations.

My other area of focus was that the advent of printing pictorials coupled with a rise in appreciation for Art. I specifically mentioned the English fad in the late 17th early 18th centuries that revolved around cartoon replications of Raphael's paintings from the Rennaissance. The widespread distribution of these cartoons resulted in a massive addiction to art critique and purchasing. Society was changed because of printing.

What I valued most from this research paper is that I gained a greater appreciation for hidden knowledge in the depths of the library. I ended up going to the Rare Collections Center to look up an original copy of Vesalius' Fabrica. There was a more official, scholarly feeling to my research. As if the information I was finding was valuable and could be regurgitated in another form.

Just goes to show, that there is still no subsitution for actula printed materials, no matter how free information is on the internet.


  1. I would disagree with your last statement. I don't think there is yet... but so many more books are being converted to digital formats and so many more things are published on the web that in the near future I think the internet will replace books for research purposes.

  2. I don't know about that; the library is a more efficient way in finding practical information for a research paper. With the internet, searching for info is like that old cliche, looking for a needle in a haystack. There's so much information that anything worth reading gets convoluted with garbage material.
    But with libraries, everything is cataloged and organized so that relevant information can be found more easily.