We got to thinking about our life before the web.
Here’s a few thoughts.
How did we...
I remember us arriving here in 1995 and buying the ADC maps. They published one for Northern Virginia and one for Washington. I first bought the former but soon needed both. Over the years, I wore those things out.
Rand McNally Atlas
Nothing quite like walking into the bookstore and buying the annual guide. I would look at certain states and see what new interstates or roads were there.
AAA is the last bastion of this aspect of our lives. They still sell the folded maps and the books.
There were two kinds. One used written words, the other stick drawing. I always preferred the latter.
And if all else, failed, you egot out and asked or yelled out the window.
...get our news?
Anyone remember the afternoon papers?
When I was growing up in Greensboro, we got both the morning and the afternoon newspaper delivered. I’m guessing most cities had both. I remember waiting for the afternoon paper to be delivered so I could check the Giants scores if they had played on the West Coast.
I also distinctly remember the day USA Today coming on board in the 80s.
Now that was a big deal. They used satellites. So for the first time, you could get all the results and boxscores from the West Coast. May not sound like a big deal but to this day, newspapers like the Post still have to say - the game was late and didn’t make the deadline.
get the spelling of a word?
In offices and such you might ask.
Mostly, though, dictionaries. I've still got my Webster's I bought new in 1991. Talk about dog-eared and worn spine.
I never use it anymore, but it does make for a helluva nostalgia piece.
get baseball stats?
The weekly Sporting News was the baseball bible. Total Baseball’s big annual was totally cool.
found out about new music?
Tuesday’s were release day at record stores. You could also buy records at some department stores.
One discovered new music by browsing, or the song came on the radio.
As much as I love knowing everything there is to know about a new release, I do miss that spontaneous moment when you heard a band’s new song on the radio.
Communicate with other like-minded people
They were called "pen pals." I had two.
One was Steve Watanabe. I actually forgot how we first connected. He lived in California.
The other was Derek Bacharach. In 1984, the Rush Fan Club (anyone remember Dottie?), printed the 25 winners of solving a puzzle in the previous issue. All of the names included the city and state, except mine, which gave my military postal address in England. Derek saw that and wrote me. We ended up becoming “regular friends.”
Has the internet made us better or worse?
The articles in the Post focused on the negative, and there is certainly plenty of that when it comes to the web. George Orwell’s "Big Brother" came true, and in terrible, far-reaching ways the author could have never imagined.
We do have to figure out how we compensate the providers. My goal going forward is to be cognizant of that.
It is the wild wild west out there. But I’m an eternal optimist, and believe overall, the world wide web has made us a better society.