A single frame comic reads, “Life Before Google: A Short Story.” Two characters are sitting on the couch, eating popcorn. One states, “I just thought of something I’d like to know more about.” The other responds, “That’s a darn shame.”The more I thought about it, the funnier it became. There was a time when you couldn’t just pick up your phone and immediately access information through Google. If you used your phone to gain knowledge, it was through calling someone. Sort of a “phone a friend” feature. You had to really think about where to find the information you were seeking. As a young teen, I would occasionally call DJs and ask them who a particular artist was, or what was the name of the song that was currently playing. Nowadays, through Google, I can have the information in 10 seconds.
Before smartphones, I insisted that the most valuable thing in our home was the World Book Encyclopedia set. I believed it was faster to look up something in the encyclopedia than it was to search for it online. Hubby and I used to have contests. The kids would ask a question, and then he ran to the computer while I dashed to the bookshelf. Because he had to wait for the computer to boot up, and because at that time our Internet was dial up, I always won. I was confident in my assessment that encyclopedias would always be an integral asset to the intelligent household.
But then it came time to update to a more current set. By then, we had satellite Internet, and laptops that were always up and running. I considered the cost of the encyclopedias, and evaluated how often we actually referred to them, and realized I might as well use that expansive amount of shelf space for something else.