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I was in the fourth grade in 1967 the first time I heard the term "Baby Boom." My teacher told us we were special because our generation was the largest in history. Boomers have always felt a bit like Peter Pan, we've always had a sense of entitlement, that we are different and forever young. Our slogan used to be "Don't trust anyone over thirty," until we started turning thirty.

Well, get ready. Mick Jagger is a great-grandfather.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mick-jagger-to-be-great-grandfather/

Pass the Geritol please.

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Yes, it creeps up on you until suddenly you find yourself wondering why they are letting young kids be policemen!

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Hey Camy, Talk about cheery... I just found this little blurb on my generation:

For generation Z, computer technologies and the Internet is the common place. All their communication takes place on the internet and they show very little verbal communication skills. Most of their formative years are being spent on the World Wide Web. They are used to instant action and satisfaction due to internet technology

Makes me sound like a sugardoodle techie!

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Hey Camy, Talk about cheery... I just found this little blurb on my generation:

For generation Z, computer technologies and the Internet is the common place. All their communication takes place on the internet and they show very little verbal communication skills. Most of their formative years are being spent on the World Wide Web. They are used to instant action and satisfaction due to internet technology

Makes me sound like a sugardoodle techie!

I was going to ask what a sugardoodle techie was, then thought I'd try an find out myself....

Shock horror, but sugardoodle isn't on Wikipedia. However, sugar house is:

Like the name implies, sugar houses are small cabins or series of cabins, originally destined to belong to certain private or farm estates, and where sap collected from sugar maple trees is boiled into maple syrup.

Sugardoodle.com is a site selling Golden Retriever puppies in California - which didn't sound too techie. Asking Google found me lost at sugardoodle.net - an odd site, that seemingly is part of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Hmm. Sugardoodle.co.uk is an 'attack site' that infects your computer with nasties, and sugardoodle.xxx doesn't exist ... yet.

So I'm still in the dark.

What is a sugardoodle techie, please?

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Mick Jagger was in Natchez, MS this weekend.

The story of James Brown's life is being shot on location there and he paid his respects to the "Godfather of Soul".

I noticed that he didn't even need a walker.

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I had a kid ask me the other day, "What was the world like before the internet? How did you find out anything?"

Doh. I spent almost every weekend from about 3rd grade through 10th or 11th grade in the library (1960s/early 1970s), reading everything I could get my hands on. It stuns me that young people think research is the same thing as just doing a Google search, grabbing the first three hits, and cutting and pasting what you find.

Don't forget we also had encyclopedias. My sister and I read the entire mid-1960s edition of the World Book Encyclopedia probably at least 15 or 20 times. Eventually, that crap sticks in your head and you begin to realize there's a bigger world out there.

I think the view of the world you get on the net is much different from what you get from books. Interpreting that knowledge is an individual thing, but I do think we've kind of lost something in people confusing "fast and easy" access with broad access to information. The art of footnotes is slipping away.

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The big difference is, with a library, you have a question and have to go hunting for the answer. There are a few helps available, but where they lead you to is books. There, with your question in mind, you have hundreds or thousands of pages to look through.

How much simpler it is today. Write a questions on the search line and in less than a second you've got hundreds of responses, all relating directly to your question.

I too loved libraries. Spent lots of time there, both in college and out. But they're institutions of the past, for the most part. Something like the post office.

C

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The big difference is, with a library, you have a question and have to go hunting for the answer. There are a few helps available, but where they lead you to is books. There, with your question in mind, you have hundreds or thousands of pages to look through.

Which usually meant that you did not find the answer to the actual question you had but found hundreds of answers to other questions that you had not yet got round to asking. We are loosing a lot of trivial knowledge because we are no longer having to read through piles of material to find the information we want, now we can go right to the relevant web page. What is worse I have noticed that the youngsters now do not even go to the web page, they look at the extract that pops up in the Google search.

Interesting observation: a couple of weeks ago I was at a friends house and their sixteen year old son came back from school complaining that he had been beaten on the research assignment they had been given about Ghandi by a girl who lived on one of the upland farms. He made the comment that he did not know how she had done it as she did not have the internet and had to use books but had come up with piles of additional information that was not on the web sites he had looked at, like Ghandi being forced to leave First Class on a train in South Africa.

The Web is useful but it can also be very restrictive at times.

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I think we may be in danger of falling into the 'old fuddy duddy' department if we begin complaining about how encyclopedias and libraries were somehow 'better' for research than their modern equivalent.

As always, the depth of research into a topic has less to do with where a person begins their search and far more to do with that person's ability to not stop looking when they touch upon the first vestige of somewhat related information. Their willingness to dig deeper, whether in a library on on the internet, their willingness to figure out context and related concepts. Yes, some students will copy two sentences from the google search synopsis when researching the topic at hand. Those are the same students who used to copy the encyclopedia article on "sublimation" verbatim, change the order of a few clauses, and hand that in as their essay.

However, in that same class will be a student who explores the links, follows more links, follows other interesting referenced links, reads about related topics, and really learns something. "Holy crap! The teacher only mentioned three states of matter but there's actually six and maybe seven! That's amazing!" Kids today can find that out in half an hour where it would've taken much, much longer back twenty or more years ago.

That's where the web, and the internet as a whole, really excels. The ability to access this kind of information is absolutely unprecedented in the history of humankind.

I am arguing that the web is a far greater and stronger tool for research than libraries ever were. Indeed, that is why is was originally invented. I am also arguing that students can and will only benefit from its availability. The books are still there, and believe me, the kids who are interested are still reading them. The libraries are still there. They are important. Extremely important. They have not been replaced, but hugely, hugely, enhanced.

Today's kids are exploring depths and availability of knowledge that would've made me weep for joy if the internet was around when I was twelve or thirteen years old.

We're living in the science fiction dreams of my youth. At least when it comes to information and communication technology. And I am glad of it.

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Doh. I spent almost every weekend from about 3rd grade through 10th or 11th grade in the library (1960s/early 1970s), reading everything I could get my hands on. It stuns me that young people think research is the same thing as just doing a Google search, grabbing the first three hits, and cutting and pasting what you find.

As a "Millennial", I was likely part of the last generation that was taught, as kids, how to use card catalogues, libraries, and actual ink-and-paper sources for research. That said, when I got to about 7th grade, the Internet became ubiquitous and I never actually needed to use any of those skills.

I used the library in undergrad...because it was a quiet place to plug in my laptop, connect to the college's wifi, and access their scholarly databases. I remember going through the actual, physical books and professional journals maybe twice, because one of my professors required it. In grad school, I used exactly one physical book - the APA Publication Manual (though I think I only opened it twice - I've written so many APA papers that I memorized the format years ago). For everything else, "research" requires a different skillset than the one I was taught in school pre-Internet. Now, constructing a powerful string of key terms and manipulating the various search options in a database of scholarly sources has taken the place of pulling from the card catalogue and navigating shelves with the Dewey Decimal System.

Yes, there are some people who think "research" means Google and Wikipedia and nothing else, but those are the same kids who thought "research" meant copying the encyclopedia. Nerds know better. Nerds are still nerds - it's just the methods and tools of nerdery that have changed.

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We're living in the science fiction dreams of my youth. At least when it comes to information and communication technology. And I am glad of it.

Me too. However, I'm glad I knew what it was like before ... in the old days: pre biometrics and surveillance. When it wasn't a computer that said no, but a real live, blood coursing, breathing, human being.

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There was a short period in my childhood, I was about 12 years old, when I was enthused to learn maths. The credit for that goes to an inspirational teacher. She was a little old lady with grey hair tied up in a bun, and she was trying to teach us to calculate complex sums using logarithms, and books of log tables. It was before spreadsheets, or even electronic calculators. Tedious stuff. But she must have seen something in me and she showed me a slide rule and how to use it. I was enthralled and immediately grasped the significance of logarithms and bounded ahead.

Fast forward four years, and the school acquired its first electronic calculator. It was so valuable they bolted it to to a large plank of wood to lessen the likelihood of its being stolen and it had only four functions - add, subtract, multiply and divide. No memory. Forward another three years and calculators were ubiquitous and could be bought everywhere, even from market stalls, for less than ten pounds sterling. After which my slide rule never got used again. I still have it though.

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I shall not fall into the fuddy-duddy trap this time by waxing on about the good old days of slogging through card catalogs and printed records, except to say that I recently moved and while packing up I came across boxes of yellowed 3x5 cards covered with teeny writing, nearly illegible and used just once for some dissertation or other. Needless to say I dumped it all into the nearest recycle bin. Don't even mention carbon paper and White-Out and typesmeared yellow second sheets.

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I am arguing that the web is a far greater and stronger tool for research than libraries ever were. Indeed, that is why is was originally invented. I am also arguing that students can and will only benefit from its availability. The books are still there, and believe me, the kids who are interested are still reading them. The libraries are still there. They are important. Extremely important. They have not been replaced, but hugely, hugely, enhanced.

I would make a different argument from the opposite side, which is that the danger is that kids can (and will) get contemptuous of knowledge because it's so easy to get. It used to take a lot of effort, time, and diligence to do (say) a report on the Civil War; now, you do a few Google searches, read Wikipedia, and you have the answers in an hour.

I feel like kids are too casual and not respectful enough of the effort needed to collect and write information. Sometimes, they forget that what's up on the web had to be written before it could be searched. I think I've written about 20 Wikipedia articles from scratch, plus I've corrected a hundred or so other ones that were in my field of expertise. What's funny to me is when I see what I've written show up in other people's work, word-for-word (sometimes including the mistakes).

Do you remember the 1960 movie The Time Machine? I'm reminded of the Eloi, the young remaining humans on the earth who led a carefree and lackadasical existence, ignoring the vast amounts of knowledge at their fingertips because they had the bare minimum of what they needed: food, water, air, a roof over their heads, and (one assumes) sex. But the thirst for knowledge wasn't there. My fear is that this could be a possibly real direction for our future.

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I think we may be in danger of falling into the 'old fuddy duddy' department if we begin complaining about how encyclopedias and libraries were somehow 'better' for research than their modern equivalent.

I would not say that they we better for research, I would say that the quality of research you got was different. Personally, and this is a very personal view, I think the combination of the Web and a good library is the best. I'm lucky as I have access to two university libraries where I live and have another seven within easy car ride distance, so I use libraries a lot. At the moment I'm working on a book about Environmental Ethics and Paganism with a view to submitting it for a PhD by publication, I tend to do a web search on a topic, end up with a pile of information often containing references to books then I go off to the library and read the references in the books. That's where I tend to find a lot of the information which is important to me but was not in the web based articles.

By the way people need to be careful not to confuse the Web with the Internet. There is a lot more out there on the Internet than the stuff that can be accessed through the Web. I was at a conference in Paris last week and two different speakers gave estimates for the amount of the Internet content that can be obtained via the web, on said 20% and the other 25%.

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There were two subjects in school I despised, and thus did not do well: anything to do with math and foreign languages. Geometry I could understand because it had a physical aspect but once I was past that I was lost. The same goes for languages although I had three years of French and two of German prior to college (some things were mandatory and were easily forgotten).

But I mention this because in college I was tempted to take the fledgling computer science class, until I read through the textbook. Here was a melding of math and a foreign language. This was back in the days of punch cards and everyone had to learn the language to make that work. This is why I laud Bill Gates and what he has done to make computer technology available to the masses.

I am of a firm belief that there are three kinds of minds out there: those that can think in numbers, those who think in language and then perhaps those who can do both. I am a word person and nothing more. I was raised on books as the ultimate source of information and find the internet to be the largest library in the world.

But just like in books, the authors of the Wiki world and Google have a point of view and are not always accurate in what they have to say. Any research that involves those two entities requires a more in depth look at a subject to fact check the material. But both are good for a general sense of knowledge on a subject and I find their distillation of information only leads me to other sources...like books.

No community library can compete with the internet for the volume of information it contains. Libraries today are more about entertainment, although you can still find a set of encyclopedia there. But even when searching for facts to use in a story sometimes the general concepts are enough.

We are purveyors of fiction and so are not held to the same set of rules which bind non-fiction authors. That means we can twist the truth to fit the plot, or lie if you will. You will not find me writing blurbs for the Wiki site since the temptation to step out of bounds would be too great, but it does have some appeal...in a fictional sense.

In the sixties we smoked pot and today the kids have their personal electronics. I judge the addiction level between the two to be about the same. Words suffer in both situations and conversation has become painful. I guess that's what it means to feel old. Of course as we age we can always find someone younger to do our thinking for us, just don't expect the results to be anything but fiction.

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A weird experience a few years ago...

My son remarked that he was doing logarithms at school. I said that I would have thought calculators had done away with the need for logarithms. He said "No, why would they?". It turned out that to him a logarithm was simply the power of ten that yielded the number in question. He didn't know about anti-logarithsm, had never seen a book of log-tables and was unaware that you could multiply numbers using logs.

Logarithms were still in his syllabus... but in a stamp-collecting role

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