Wednesday, January 16, 2008
When I was young, and dreamed of having an Apple IIc at home and the internet hadn't been made available to anyone yet, I used to read the many encyclopedia volumes we possessed. Encyclopedias were perfect for a curious mind like mine that had one failing - no attention span. Born a decade or so later, I would have been given some ritalin. My mother has suggested as much.
I wasn't a difficult child in the way of bouncing off the walls or stealing city buses. I just wanted to know everything all at once without much effort. Can you see how I was purposely built for the digital age? For this reason, I know details about all manner of subjects, but often lack the depth to elaborate too much about it without resorting to hearsay and bullshit. Most people wouldn't have known any of this, since my normal state was one of shyness.
My encyclopedia readings allowed me to do 'research' for homework. What really happened was I looked into the volume I needed to for the task at hand, got bored of it rather quickly, and started leafing through the rest of the volume. Although I was never a good student, I would argue that no one ever asked me about the more interesting stuff I learned. I still know more Canadian history than most of my peers, and I can tell you that Canadian history is not as boring as school would have you believe. I'm a real hit at parties.
Like every boy, I wanted to figure out about girls (mostly because I wasn't invited to their parties all of a sudden, and the adults seemed to support these unfair practices - I was always for equality)... which led to finding another volume higher up on the shelf... the joy of sex. I won't get into that too much except to say I was intrigued, took it to my room, and was promptly caught a day or so later - by my mother. A day late, as it turns out. It was the 1970's version complete with extra body hair. I read through that pretty quickly, both horrified and compelled to absorb as many of these secrets as possible. How sad that I was so unpopular. I had a dangerous amount of knowledge floating about my brain, unused for years.
In the space of last two decades, kids have pushed far past restrictions on calculators in math class and can now simply type anything they want into a web browser and do homework without picking up a book or an over sized pencil or visiting a library. I'm jealous... and then not so much. Without being forced to leaf through heavy books and climb the bookcase, what serendipitous facts will be left undiscovered? Online sex education would be far more traumatic and misleading than drawings of shameless, naked, extremely hairy hippies. As I re-read that last sentence, maybe not.
Now, anyone can edit the current giant of encyclopedias; Wikipedia. The screen capture proves my point. I didn't really understand what the writers of my precious teevee shows were striking about. I'm still sort of confused. However, as an underdog of sorts myself, I almost always side with other underdogs. In an effort to understand why all the re-runs, I went to my favorite website and typed in 'writer's strike'. What came through the browser is closer to the truth. Strikes are bad, and are makeing [sic] many of us angry.
I'm not entirely convinced that this is progress, but I'm slightly jealous of the kids today.