Database driven life

One of the really impressive things about Warwick University is its databases. Or more to the point, the way its databases connect to the student intranet and let me, slumped in my study bedroom, collect pretty much everything I need to write my assignments and dissertation.

Take just now. An article referenced in one of the readings for a Strategy module caught my eye. It’s not in the readings, although it’s a seminal article on the globalisation of business from the 1980s. This is probably a test: the course director may have left that article in plain view, referenced in the folder’s readings but not actually in the folder as a handout, in order to see which clever buggers would spot it and look it up.

So I look it up. A few clicks and searching into the library, the business section, and a subscription index. A search on author and title. And – within a second – it’s there: the full-text article, not in ASCII but an actual scanned page of the Harvard Business Review from 1983, complete with foxy-edged pages and the imprint of someone’s pen pressed too hard on a previous page a quarter of a century ago. Brilliant.

In the vastness of the Internet, I inhabit a more tightly-clustered node: an ordered space of indexed scholarship, given shape and form by subscriptions and module structure and the sheer buzz of a campus wired for desseminating knowledge. From my little room here, I’m wrapped in a warm, comforting coccoon of information plus the means to make sense of it.

I’m going to miss this place.

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