I thought about an interesting incident the other day and how we can still be tied to the ways of the past. I was driving around with my sister and niece and was telling them about an orange-breasted bird I had seen moving through the bushes in the back yard. At first I was thinking it was just a robin, but then I realized the bird’s breast seemed to be a bit more orange than a robin’s and I was also thinking that its body was more brown. It just didn’t appear to be a robin.
My sister said it was a Baltimore oriole and I hadn’t thought it might be a female.
And I responded with “I’ll look it up in my bird book when I get home.” My sister said she would look it up as well – and even my niece said she had a bird book, too.
I smiled later that night after getting back home that all three of us had thought about looking up the bird in our books, when all three of us had in our hands access to all sorts of bird pictures within a couple of seconds of entering a description into our cell phones.
What I thought was interesting was that all three of us thought about looking such information up in a BOOK rather than the powerful little contraption we hold in our hands. Gaining knowledge from books still seems ingrained in us.
When we were kids, Mom and Dad decided to purchase an encyclopedia for us – called the World Book encyclopedia. A salesman had come to the house one evening, gave his spiel about why we needed the books, and how affordable they were. I watched and listened thinking about wonderful it would be to have all that information at my fingertips right there in our home. Each month we would get another volume in the series, and in a year’s time we had the entire 22 volume set sitting in the living room on shelves under the front picture window.
It wasn’t the top of the line set – for that we would have had to have shelled out much more money for something like Encyclopedia Britannica. Still not every home had such luxury. I used to love looking through them and reading articles whenever a new set of books arrived. ((Original price of World Book?)) But our parents decided that having such a reference was essential for our inquiring minds, and so regardless of cost, they were willing to make monthly payments for a year to get the entire set.
So I guess in some respects we had an early version of a computer in our house in the early 1970s. If we had a question, we would turn to “the Book” and see what it said. Unlike searching for answers on today’s internet, we were fairly sure that what was in the WB was fairly accurate. I remember turning to the WB when I was working on my senior research paper in high school – the one that had to be constructed using note cards, typed, with footnotes and page numbers. Again, modern tech doesn’t reflect the difficulties students used to have when typing up papers – but that’s probably a topic for another blog entry.
Convenient? Most definitely. But I wonder if we are we headed toward a world where books will no longer be produced on paper? Will a day arrive when the physical copy of a book will no longer be available? I mean even I produced my first novel using 80% digital resources: Microsoft Word for creation, CreateSpace for layout, Amazon.com for sales. Of course, I’m old school, so when the book was completed, I immediately purchased the first printed copies of the book. But with the book also available for Amazon’s Kindle e-Reader, it makes me think that it won’t be long before companies decide printing the book is no longer the effort.
Still, I love going into my library and pulling a book from the shelves, sitting down in the easy chair with a cup of tea, and getting lost in its pages. (And yes, a few steps to the left and I could see the same content on my computer.) Maybe I don’t turn to a book for answers as we did as children, but it is still a mindset that has me thinking of the book’s value for imparting knowledge even though a more convenient method is always available.
As for the bird identification? Well, I didn’t pull the book from the shelf and look for an image of the female Baltimore oriole. When I remembered I had the answer at my fingertips, all I had to do was type in “female Baltimore oriole” in Google’s search engine and in 3-4 seconds I had my answer – it indeed was a female oriole. Now, I wonder if there’s a picture of her nest.