Hey remember encyclopedias?
No I don’t mean encyclopedia.com and no spell-check I didn’t mean Wikipedia, I was talking about those huge door stops that were good for killing bugs, helping little kids sit at the big table and, oh yeah, looking up information on a subject… but not all subjects… and not all information on that subject. It was just the information that the publisher decided valid enough to put in there.
My family had a three shelf stack of Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia of the English Language. It was all the info you needed to write a three sentence blurb about your topic. And all the pictures were in dazzling monochromatic black and white.
Some of you reading this won’t realize how stuff was done before the internet. You know how when you get stuck in a Wikipedia worm hole? You know, you go to look up information about the Northwest Passage for a rant about the Oregon Trail video game and then you click on a link for the Gulf of California then a link by mistake about Hernan Cortes, but it has a cool map picture about the Island of California from 1650 and with a click of the mouse, you are on an entire article about the Island of California which mentions nothing about the Oregon Trail video game nor the Oregon Trail itself.
Well back in the day, there was no internet, so now when you click the mouse button and the magic internet fairies bring the information to your screen; that was the equivalent of looking at footnotes that say see also… and you had to head back to the book stacks and find the volume that had the name of the article you were looking for.
So each tab at the top of your browser means another book you would have in front of you at the library. That’s why the movies set in the early 80s where people are at a desk trying to solve a problem they have papers strewn everywhere and books stacked all around them, it’s because that desk is their browser with gum stuck under the bottom and “Steve wuz here” scratched in the top.
You do know what the library is, right? Just to clarify, there are city or public libraries but those are just a place where homeless people go to shave and make BM.
But there are libraries on most University campuses too; these are places where poor college kids go to take a nap, get free wireless internet and go make BM.
So for those of you who don’t remember, the way the encyclopedias were set up was in alphabetic volumes. There was “A”-“B” and “C” was its own because it was so big, then “D”-“E” and so on. Well to look up the Island of California you can look in “C” volume or the “I” volume under island, now a day’s your friend Google will just ask you, “Did you mean…” This saves tons of time.
And it didn’t get to IMDB and Wikipedia overnight.It took some time to get the amount of the information on the web organized like it is today. Thanks to search engines, searching a topic puts us in touch with photos and videos along with text for nearly any topic. For instance, if you wanted to know what to do if your grill gets wet…
Well the information moved from the huge books to a tiny disc the mid 90s when there were CD-ROM encyclopedias like Microsoft’s Encarta.
This was like the internet because it had videos and music and pictures about the subjects and the ability to plagiarize with copy and paste. And rather than writing a three sentence blurb on the African Union written in the students own handwriting copied directly from the encyclopedia; now they could copy and paste almost a whole paragraph and pass it off as your own work. And the teachers seemed pretty dumb, they had no idea a 5th grader doesn’t write like this:
“The African Union or AU which is formally the Organization of African Unity, intergovernmental organization, established in 1963, to promote unity and solidarity of African States to promote international cooperation. Its activities included the mediation of boundary conflicts and regional and civil wars, and research in economics and communications.”
Right, the kid who was at the McDonald’s birthday party this past weekend who threw up in the ball pit had time and wits to write such eloquent words…sure.
So enjoy the plethora of information at your fingertips. If your kid asks a question and you don’t know the answer, tell them to look it up…of course now they can use a phone or tablet or the laptop to look up all the stuff they need. very few of them seem to go to the desk top computer anymore though. Why is that. is the PC becoming obsolete? Maybe in a few years I can right a “Hey, Remember that?” rant about them.