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Why can’t it all be this easy?

Mar - 12 - 2009
Nicole C. Engard

Okay – it’s time to use my mother as the focus of a post again.

First, some background. My mother is taking a paralegal course online. Once she got the hang of the online tools used in the class she was very excited and was learning all kinds of new things. Her newest course however hasn’t been as exciting for her. She is constantly calling me to pick my law librarian brain to try and help her out. Apparently, her instructor isn’t taking the time to teach search strategies and the school isn’t offering the students access to the database they need to do their research.

Tomorrow, Mom and I are going to Jenkins Law Library to do some legal research and learn some tips – things she should be learning in class but isn’t. Until then we have temporary access to Lexis to search for some of the answers to her homework, but unfortunately we also need WestLaw.

Given that background, it makes perfect sense why my mother asked me today, “what can’t it all be this easy?” while searching Google for the difference between two legal reference guides.

While I’m supposed to be annoyed that she asked that – I’m not! Why can’t it all be that easy? Why can’t she do her research on a platform that makes sense to her? Why does she need special training (which she’s not getting) in order to find the answers to her homework – and in order to do her job after school? Maybe I’m just sensitive because it’s my mother.

I do understand that every job needs special skills, so why should research be any different – but from a technology stand point – I know that the technology is there for us to provide better search tools to our patrons and to researchers – so why don’t we?

I don’t have an answer, just a little rant using the experiences of an average Internet user and beginner researcher.

One Response so far.

  1. Iago18335 says:

    Because (adjusting my cynical hat) by restricting information and forcing people to do all sorts of ridiculous things in order to get access to it you can then make money selling access to it.

    It’s a total cliche but knowledge is power and if you can restrict the number of people who have the knowledge you can exploit the others.

    So, while your mother might wish there was an easier way to get at that information now, once she gets that paralegal degree she’ll be happy that all the rest of us have no hope in hell of accessing that same information and have to pay a lawyer (or paralegal) to do it for us.

    Information may want to be free but the man is still keeping it locked up.


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