Friday, October 7, 2011

Analog Internet: the world was a better place when people used encyclopedias

When I want to learn something, or seek entertainment, or merely pass the time, I go to my desk. Simple, but made of solid wood, it sits in the corner of a room by a window. I sit and, in one motion, pull an enormous book to the center of the desk while bringing myself to the edge of my seat. With the cover resting in one hand, I walk my fingers down the edges of pages until they reach some letter or number or space in my mind and then I spread them open. Rarely, I'll get it just right, and there it is, the tidbit I was looking for. But, far more often, it's not there, and so I get sidetracked, letting my finger trace down the page, letting my mind flit from one thing to another, losing myself in the pages and columns and synonyms and related articles. And then the sun is different on the page, or there's a noise outside the window. Contrasted with the soft paper and orderly text and thoughtful absorption of the moment before, the outdoors seem so bright and chaotic and alluring with the promise of all I had learned and all that is still to be known. I leave the book open, letting the pages lift and fall in the breeze from the open window in the corner of the room that is empty, and I am seeing what all the noise is about.

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