February 16, 2006

This is the first time I’ve used Firefox to compose. Not so bad. I have to admit, I am so assimilated with IE, it really is shameful. Firefox seems so slow compared to IE. Is that only a subjective, perceptual reality or is it truly slower? At Oregon State, Microsoft products (although used daily), were so “un-pc” that everyone used Netscape when I arrived in 2000 and eventually migrated along over to Mozilla. I found that extremely peculiar. This is Microsoft country, right? But, not so here. There was blatant dislike of Microsoft at UAB but, nothing like the self-righteous fury I saw displayed at OSU. Interesting to see how two academic institutions respond to current technology. I had my students use Google, they had never heard of it in 2000. Another interesting thing to me.

Since this seems to be turning into a technology I have used in the “good old days” post…..

I acquired my first email address back in 1992 when I was working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It was damn cool, those first heady days of email. At Lister Hill Library all of our addresses began with LHL and I still remember mine, LHL0016@uabdpo.dpo.uab.edu. Rather long and it was difficult to actually email others because of the routing mechanism or something (“dpo” was an acronym for data post office?).

However, I managed to subscribe to the c18th century list (I worked in the Reynolds Historical Library) and we were compiling a print bibliography. That list, along with Exlibris (both of which still survive and thrive) were instrumental in helping us identify specific bibliographic details, translation of obscure Latin and German titles and post queries regarding scholarly library subjects.

Not so for the elect Bill Clinton president list. What a fun thing to subscribe to in those days. Of course, it was all in plain text, we were using Pegasus for our email client, and, of course, nobody was sending attachments, at least, not successfully. Interesting list that was small enough to feel comfortable posting to and yet, engendered good debate from both sides.

Then a year or so later, Mosaic came along and again, wonderment. We could actually telnet into the British Library and try to search their catalog (myself and the head of reference) did this one afternoon and thought it the coolest thing since, oh I don’t know, email.

Information technology has changed so much in such a short time. I’ve read “Fire in the Valley” about the beginnings of the Arpanet and Gates and Jobs, but I assume someone is writing a history of the more “recent” Internet and the Web. That history, and specifically how it has changed the way librarians and library users is one that will be useful for those coming after us. Hell, it will be useful to those of us that were there when it began and perhaps provide a perspective of how it went from a simple blank screen and blinking cursor to, oh man, myspace.com and all the other good and not so good things that have come from this.

As technology has progressed, it seems that the wonderment that many (some?) of us felt in a new way to communicate has been lost.

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