And Who Is Your Source?

In the fifteen years since I graduated from high school, the eleven years since I graduated from college, and the seven years since I earned my Master’s degree, the ways in which people create, share, access, and respond to the written word and visual media has grown in scope.  No longer does a student, a researcher, or an industry professional have to be limited to the walls of their local public or university libraries.  No longer does one have to spend as much if not more time in gathering research material than reading through it and then writing a paper.

Back in my day, one turned to books, magazines, journals, anthologies, newspapers, microfiche, film, television, performing arts, memoirs, letters, seminars, conversations.  Aside from printed material, there was an “assumption,” that events were experienced in person or in a tangible media form (VHS, cassette, laser disc, vinyl, celluloid, CD, DVD).  But today? A person can experience performances and talks live, via tangible media form, and through streaming video and web/mobile apps.

I do not envy anyone who is writing a term paper today — the increase in ways to obtain and digest information means more sources to cite.    Looking through papers I had written in college, providing bibliographic information for online content more or less followed the format of:

Author’s last name, first name.  “Name of article, page.”  Name of Website.  Posting date.

Gonzalez, Ed.  “Dario Argento’s Dreams.”  2001.
<URL of article>. *

YouTube was a haven for fanvids and funny pet/people videos when I was in grad school.  The manner in which many videos were shared suggested that YouTube was more of a “photobucket” of videos — people uploaded content to YouTube and shared links in other places (emails, online forums, fan sites, and the like).  Many creators of fanvids and game-play videos uploaded files to a hosted site, allowing people to download them.  After looking at the bibliography for two papers I wrote on fanvids, I had cited more of these downloadable links than YouTube URLs.  For instance:  “Especial 20 anos.” Downloaded 29 Sep. 2004.

Bautista, Julius.  “got melee?” Six Sided Video.  2000.  Downloaded 27 Sept 2005.
<URL of web page that had the downloadable link>.

The problem with  this template is that URLs change over time and pages are taken down.

My grandmother used to tell me often that living is learning.  You live to old, you learn to old.   Indeed, life-long researchers must keep up with the rules of correctly citing sources.

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab is an invaluable resource for people with questions on how to reference these various media.

Speaking of “back in my day, ” check me out during the last year or so that one of my neighborhood blockbusters was still open:

* Ed Gonzalez‘s “Dario Argento’s Dreams” article is now accessible at this URL.

2 thoughts on “And Who Is Your Source?

  1. Christopher

    The advance in technology isn’t an unalloyed good. Think of biographers in the not-too-distant future, who won’t have stacks of dusty old handwrittern letters, stored in boxes in attics, to sift through, the better to enter the inner worlds of their subjects, who, being creatures of the 21st century in which the e-mail and mobile-phone texting are king, won’t ever have handwritten dreamily poetic, or tearily heartrending, letters to lovers, let alone letters to anyone.
    Biographies of luminaries of the future may consequently be the more arid.


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