Saturday, August 27, 2011

The new and improved acquisition of knowledge about hermit crabs

Remember that time you had a question about hermit crabs and your mom told you to look it up.  And when she said "look it up" she meant in the encyclopedia?

Some of you are now asking yourselves, "What is she talking about?  What is an en-cy-clo-ped-i-a?"  I'm sorry for you.  Here, I'll show you a picture of one.
It looks a lot like a book, right?  Generally, they come in a set, which looks like this:

On Saturday I listened to this old man tell Terron James, one of the authors I was signing with that day, about reading the encyclopedia when he was young.  And while I listened I guess I had a moment of nostalgia.  Man, I loved to read the encyclopedia when I was little. 

I always think Zach is so weird because he only wants to read for information. He only wants to read non-ficton books.  And as a writer of fiction, this alarms me a little.  But looking back through the years, my favorite things to read have always been non-fiction as well.

I remember one summer when I was really young, maybe too young to even read, Dad gave all us kids a topic to do a research paper on.  (Am I remembering this right guys?) My topic was the solar system.  Well, we all hoofed it downstairs to the shelf where the encyclopedias were kept.  We all ran our fingers along the spines until we found the letter that corresponded to the topic we had.  And then of course we had to pull the book off the shelf and turn through the pages until we found what we needed.  It was like a treasure hunt.

This google stuff, it's different.  A few days ago Zach asked me if he could use my computer because Dad told him he would need to learn all about hermit crabs before he could get one.  I said sure, and within maybe one minute, Zach was reading me factoids about hermit crabs.  Amazed at the speed and a little curious, I asked him how he found the information so fast.  He proceded to explain to me the step by step process of using google to find information. He even made it a point to show me  where I should type in what I wanted to know.
Don't get me wrong here. Online search engines are awesome.  When I have a question about something, my fingers immediately itch to type it into google, and I feel bereft and a little helpless if I am not sitting at my computer able to do so (even if I am so old and uncool that I obviously couldn't possibly know or figure out where to type in my question).  And I feel that if information is not immediately available at my fingertips, it is not worth knowing.

But don't you miss those heavy, old, dusty encyclopedias?

3 comments:

Lola X said...

Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

Lola x
http://lola-x.blogspot.com

WB said...

Hello from a fellow campaigner and thanks for stopping by my 'hood. :)

As for encyclopedias...no, I don't miss them. I have fully embraced the googleness of the world we live in and I love it. But, hey, I do remember encyclopedias so that's something, right??

Elicia said...

There have been times on occasion when I have indeed missed having an encyclopedia. The weight of the knowledge, the pages flipping through my fingers, and the smile on my face when I actually find what I'm looking for. And though I have completely embraced the google lifestyle there are those times when you think back to your childhood and think, "Those were the good old days."