Old School v. New School

I went to the indoor mall the other day to get my steps in. Lately I’ve taken my new camera too. It’s good photography practice and I’ve gotten some fun pictures this way. Unfortunately they mostly don’t relate to this blog.

My mall walk candid photo.

Anyway, I took several photos before and after I walked. Most were unexciting. But this one caught my attention.

As I walked I’d seen the woman in the electric cart reading her book outside the kids’ jewelry store. I figured she was waiting for someone. But thought it was probably a young girl, perhaps a granddaughter. I thought grandma was clever to bring along a book to read if she needed to wait. I use to do that, too. Now I keep one on my cell phone.

After my walk I sat in the top floor food court to drink water and snap pictures. It’s a great place to look down on the center area’s coffee shop loungers. No one ever looks up. Amazing how people ignore what anyone outside their immediate interest are doing.

Shortly after I sat down the grandma with her book rode up in her mobility cart. She had her shopping partner with her. But I was wrong. She wasn’t a kid. They relaxed at a table for 20 minutes or more. They didn’t even buy drinks. The older lady reading her book, the younger one on her phone. Old school versus new school.

I have no idea what each were viewing, but it made me think about how we find information today. How we research anything.

I’ve shared many ways to find scribal inspiration online. When I started this blog I wrote about how scribal research had changed since I first joined the SCA. But it’s more than that.

Anyone wanting detailed info about any topic should learn not only new school research methods but also old school. New school research uses digitized artifact images and journal articles you can find through Google Scholar. Old school uses university libraries and inter-library book loans. Both serve their purpose.

If you’re wanting to recreate any item another person already made you may find step-by-step directions on someone’s blog. Or you might find online directions from an SCA class handout pdf file. To me both are new school research, all online

But when you want to dig deep and find information about a unique item to recreate – something it seems no one’s done before – you may have to look to archaeological journals or doctoral theses for what you need. These might be posted online – that’s where Google Scholar comes in – but many remain in your local college’s basement, undigitized.

How do you decide which search method to use? It depends on what you’re trying to learn. The best way to follow the bread-crumb trail.

Knowing how to seek information with old and new school methods increases your chance to recreate that thing you want. Or to learn how your persona might have done things. You may start online and find to create your medieval widget you must switch to old school sources. Don’t let that stop you. Using both methods takes you deeper into historical recreation than either will by themselves.

Categories: Resources

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