The Whole Internet in One Book

I’m not an early adopter, but back in 1993 I was convinced that this internet thing was going to be real and bought the book The Whole Internet Users Guide & Catalog by Ed Krol. It was paperback and smallish textbook size. It explained how the internet works and told you where to find the information on it. Think of Google but for cave people.

I still have the book. I take it out when I want to hear my children laugh hysterically and look at me with old-person pity. Here are a few nuggets from the text:  Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 7.57.53 AM

  • “A few months of old Wall Street Journals (are) online as an experiment to see how one might use an online newspaper completely indexed. This is not particularly of any use as news, but it is a reasonably good source to hone your WAIS searching skills.”(p. 305) 
  • The World Wide Web or WWW, is the newest information service to arrive on the Internet. The Web is based on a technology called hypertext. So don’t be surprised if it doesn’t occasionally work the way you’d like. It’s certainly worth playing with. (p. 227)
  • USENET Addresses: This contains a list of all people who have posted to USENET news groups passing through MIT. This is an excellent way to find out a reasonable up-to-date address for many users of the NET. (p331)

If you were into Aviation, the book listed one news group, one aeronautics archive, and a site that provided weather briefings to pilots. Not much more for Cooking, but it does include a recipe for Algerian green beans with almonds.

I keep the book because it reminds me of a time when I had to either remember things or go to the public library to look them up. Microfiche: another relic from a lost time.

Microfiche-I used to spend hours and hours researching by scrolling through microfiche

Microfiche-I used to spend hours and hours researching by scrolling through microfiche

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t miss those days. All I have to do is open my laptop       in a non-hotspot to realize that I feel lost without instant access to everything I want to know. But have we really gained by having everything we want to know at our fingertips all the time?

Just the other day someone told me “I live my life in this world. I don’t go online.” She meant it as an apology, but I found myself greatly envying her. I know that sounds funny coming from a person whose livelihood comes from creating and curating information for the web, but there are times I would really like to completely unplug from the barrage of “stuff” coming at me all the time.

My teenage children call me a technophobe and say I think all electronics should  be banned. Again, funny considering what I do for a living. I don’t really want to ban electronics, but I wouldn’t mind if the world shut everything off at 7pm CST. What I really want is to protect them from thinking that cell phones and laptops and Tweets and Instagram are the only way to live and communicate. It saddens me to see people not look at the world around them because they are too busy looking at the microcosm they created inside a phone. I like trees and I like pink clouds and I like being in the same room with my friends while the smell of warm coffee permeates the air.

I think Ed Krol and I would get along marvelously.

I think Ed Krol and I would get along marvelously.

Yes, my children look at me with old-person pity, and perhaps I am starting to get a bit too nostalgic, but sometimes the pull of instant access and 24-hour email and 389,000,000 results in .37 seconds is just too much. Who knew twenty years ago that The Whole Internet would really become our whole world?

I think the author did. His last entry in the catalog is Zymurgy, or the study of fermentation. As in brewing. He then lists a newsgroup, an archive of recipes, and access to a Homebrew Digest. That’s more recognition than Aviation got. Much more helpful, too.


One thought on “The Whole Internet in One Book

  1. Pingback: Did You Just Get Jacked? « Blue Cypress Solutions

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