Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Feb 20, 2017

The information age

By Curt Swarm | Jan 25, 2017

Ginnie and I were working hard on the final draft of a book I’m writing, “Protected,” and, since I’m going to self-publish, I was preparing a copyright page.

I studied the keyboard and the million fonts for the copyright symbol (a circle with a “c” in the middle) but, for the life of me, could not find one. I was about to give up, and just use the word “copyright” with no symbol, when I thought I’d give it the ole college try and “Ask Google.” I didn’t have much hope, but why not? All I did was type in the question, “How do you make the copyright symbol?”

Boom. I had a choice between a Mac computer and a PC, which is what I have. Following the PC option was the “Feeling Lucky” caption. I was feeling skeptical, so I chose it. Boom again. There it was in plain English, “To make the copyright symbol on a PC, select Alt 00169,” if I had a keypad. I have a keypad, so I punched in Alt 00169, figuring nothing would happen except maybe a hard-drive meltdown. Lo-and-behold, the symbol for copyright appeared “©.” Unreal.

I am just simply amazed at the power we have right here at our fingertips with the internet and a computer, or smart phone. The “Information Age” that we were told about back in the 1980’s, that would be arriving in the 1990’s is, without a doubt, in full swing.

I can hardly write a letter anymore, my handwriting has gotten so bad. I’m used to composing on the keyboard.

Later in the day, as I was working on the “Review” page for “Protected,” I was looking for another word for “swearing.” What the heck? I thought I’d give Google another shot. I typed in “What’s another word for bad language?” Boom. The first selection included “profanity,” “vulgar,” “lewd,” “expletive,” and “cussing.” “Expletive” was what I wanted. Thank you World Wide Web.

If I’m looking for the lyrics to a song, all I have to do is punch in, not even the title, but a few of the words. Boom.

In fact, the writing of “Protected” is so much easier now with the use of the internet, as compared to 20 years ago when I wrote my first book. Back then, I spent a lot of time in libraries, newspaper offices, and had a wall full of dusty/musty reference books, like “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” “Webster’s Thesaurus,” and dictionaries up the wazoo, like the “Dictionary of American Slang,” and dictionaries for medical terms, chemical terms, you-name-it. Those books all went to a church rummage sale. I have spent hours paging through those dust collectors. The same information x 100 is now available in seconds at my finger tips, without leaving my chair.

I know, I know, information stored digitally doesn’t have near the shelf life as information on paper. Floppy disks that were used for information storage a few years ago, are now next to worthless. No one has a floppy-disk reader anymore. Storage on “The Cloud?” What if “The Cloud” evaporates?

Skeptics point to Bibles that were found in salt caves that are hundreds of years old. They ask how are we going to get our information in the event of a nuclear holocaust, or if the power grid goes down?

Same place we will get our groceries and gasoline, I guess. We won’t.

We may have created a monster. You can’t put the Genie back in the bottle.

Or can we? Workers at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City were tearing away the old blackboards to replace them with “smart boards.” Under the blackboards they discovered original chalkboards that had not been erased. The pretty pictures and neat handwriting are almost as fresh looking today as they were 100 years ago when they were covered over.

In this case, the Chalk Age has transcended the Information Age.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or find him on Facebook. Swarm’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

 

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