The Beginning – It all began with my first MAC – a Macintosh Plus. On the job. In retrospect, the memory and storage capacity were laughable at 1MG of RAM and 128K of ROM. But back then it was just plain cool. My husband had bought an AT&T personal computer for home but when he died I could not get into that thing no matter what I did. User-friendly … NOT! Instead of tossing it out the window (my initial impulse), I gave it to a friend then went and bought a MAC. We’ve been a MAC family ever since.
The Search – In the early 1990s, I watched backhoes dig up miles and miles of pavement to lay the fiber-optic cable that would become the veins of the Internet. It would take years. Over time the developmental glitches got worked out but not without a lot of frustration and forehead slapping. Case in point: AOL dial-ups and getting kicked off by incoming calls. Back then searching for info on the Web was a hit-and-miss affair. I still used a newspaper clipping service for research. Historical data was not a top priority for the cyber-minions of the day. They were adding content as fast as their little fingers could type, but not fast enough for a research junkie. People, libraries, and physically ‘going there’ were still the best options for solid info.
The Fun – In 1998, Google was born. And then the fun really began. What used to take days to find, pounding the pavement, took minutes on a keyboard. Searches became more widespread and specific as content continued coming online. Source reliability was a crapshoot (still is). Corroborating sources was the responsibility of the seeker, at least for those of us whose reputations are important. Takeaway: Wikipedia is intriguing but only as a launching pad.
For me research is like looking for Waldo in the Where’s Waldo books. He’s the needle-in-a-haystack of red-white-and-blue. He’s a cerebral challenge. Where’s Waldo and my MAC Plus were both born in 1987 (as was my son). It was a big year for me. It changed the trajectory of my life. Since then I’ve had multiple MACs (including several laptops), my son has grown into a wonderful man, research is still one of my favorite building blocks … and now I’m writing books of my own.