Brave New World

You know you’re old when you remember a time before the Internet. I worked for a year in a library before the Internet was introduced. The library’s main source of information was the library catalogue and the reference collection of books to answer questions. We had CD-ROMs of some databases, largely indexes and hardly any full-text, and the World Book Encyclopedia. We relied on fact sheets and books for big school assignments such as the Olympic Games, and had parents fighting over them at our information desk.

I communicated with friends via phone, face to face and letters. I still have correspondence from old school friends, to whom I used to write before email. They’re filed away with hard copy photos which were enclosed with the letters. Mr BG used to spend his Sundays writing to friends in the UK and US because international phone calls were too expensive.

Now at work, most of the information our clients need is stored or accessed online. Media, both broadcast and print are digitised, papers and reports are digitised and linked to the catalogue records and for the most part, my ‘discovery layer’ is Google!

Nowadays I can Skype my brothers in London, IM my cousins in Ireland, or keep up to date with them on Facebook. I can have meaningful conversations with friends in 140 characters or less on Twitter, and upload my photos to Facebook, Flickr, Picasa for my friends and family to see.

A couple of years ago, I attended a seminar with Stephen Abram on Web 2.0, which blew me away with the wonders of social networking. The concept of YouTube as an information resource, though, was laughable to some of my colleagues.

Earlier, Mr BG was researching guitar pedals through YouTube, checking videos of guitar geeks who were demonstrating what sounds and effects a particular pedal could achieve. I felt vindicated in a little way :).

The world is a wonderful place.


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