Thursday, February 7, 2013

Maybe "New and Improved" Really Isn't

One of my friends posted one of those, "Remember When" pictures that those of us in the grandparent age group relate to so well. It showed children sitting on the floor, saying to the old man in the chair, "Grandpa, tell us about the days when you had to buy the whole album even when you only wanted one song."

 It reminded me of something though.... all of us "old-timers" that had to buy the whole album remember we always discovered songs we really liked on the album that we hadn't heard before. Just as the "Side B" of a 45 occasionally became the big hit, I remember many, many favorite songs I loved on albums that I didn't hear until I had the whole thing.

Modern folks miss that now by downloading just the one they want. Their new precise searches and seizures limit their scope at times. It is the same way when it comes to doing research now. People miss out being exposed to a lot of random information now by the way they look things up. They want to know about collies? They do a search and get information about only collies.

"Back in the day," when we wanted to know about collies, we'd look in the encyclopedia and as you looked for "dogs" you would stumble across Denmark, dinosaurs, and diamonds on the way. You know you paused to at least look at the pictures and picked up interesting facts along the way. Then, once you found "dogs," you saw working dogs, etc. and all sorts of breeds, and finally got to collie.  I miss that and younger people never even got to experience it.

One of my favorite parts of our World Book encyclopedia was the section about the human body. It had clear plastic pictures that worked together, each one overlaying the other. You could look at just the muscle page, then lift it up and see the internal organs underneath! It was very cool. 

I remember when the man came from World Book to our house. He showed my parents the books and they talked. Even as a child, I realized that this was something very expensive and very special. It was a hardship for my parents, and I have no idea how they pulled it off (probably paid on it for years!) but they bought a set for our home. I thought it was beautiful! We also got the "Childcraft" set which was awesome as well. There were volumes of fairy tales, and poetry, and all sorts of magical things to discover.

We had a set for our children growing up as well, but they soon turned to computers for their information. Sure, you can get the most up-to-date facts online, but seriously, just how much have dinosaurs changed lately? If you want to know about colonial times, they are still the same as they were when the book was published.

It hadn't occurred to me at all until I saw my friend's comic, and thought of these things, but maybe it would not be a bad idea to get a set for our grandchildren to read here at our house? They're all being raised by techie parents, and even the toddlers are fluent in the use of the I-pad type things. It is unlikely that they'll discover the magic of unplanned discovery in their technological world. Perhaps this is something to consider...


  1. We've had a very similar experience with our encyclopedia for our children. And, would you believe, we still have the Childcraft... but our grandchildren have out grown them. Do you want to make an offer? ;)

  2. No, I don't want the Childcraft, because we have many books for the kids and update them as often as possible. But I want my grandkids to experience the serendipitous joy of learning that I experienced as a child. They already have a positive feeling books, which thrills me.


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