Archives...

When I talk to people outside academia about my work, I am often told "Oh, but you can get all of that from the internet". They seem surprised that I have to go and visit physical records, often many miles away.
Digitisation of records is a great gift for historians, but is limited too by the searchability (or lack thereof) of catalogues. The serendipitous possibilities that come of flicking to the next page, or the next file, or just of rifling through piles of ephemera, is lost in the digital project.
I have spent a lot of time in the past looking at newspapers on microfilm, and part of the fun for me is looking at what else is on the page: the other stories, the advertisements, what made up the world of those people for whom the story was NEWS.