This Is Not The World I Grew Up In, Part 4

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Last week we turned on a computer, opened a browsing program, went to the Google site, and clicked on Maps. Among other things, we went for a drive in Phoenix, looking left and right as we drove around. It was fun, but it was nothing compared to what we are going to do this week, Johnny. Hang onto your hat and watch the Internet turn the whole world on its ear.

One of dullest things I can think of is having to go down to the public library, dig up an encyclopedia, and look up something. It’s very nice to be able to get information when you need it, of course, but one thing the Internet did for us when it came of age was relieve us of the need to leave the house to get it. It was fun when the first online encyclopedia came out. Suddenly we could look up things right at home.

But it was still the same old thing. We still had to find the right entry and wade through pages of text, with maybe a picture here and there. It was good, but not great.

For example, suppose you were talking about an old movie and you couldn’t remember the name of one of the stars. First you had to find a place that listed the names of movies. That was usually done by year, so you had to scroll through the list until you found what you wanted. Then you clicked on its name to go to its entry. And finally, you had to dig up the familiar face and put a name to it. Not any more!

Turn on your machine, go to Google, and click on Images instead of Maps. Then type in the name of an old film. Make it one that’s hard one to find. Type in — say, the 1935 film, “Lives of a Bengal Lancer.” That took a long time, didn’t it? Took a whole three-tenths of a second to get a lousy 128,000 images.

Maybe it only works for some films. Let’s try — say, “Gone With the Wind.” Well, that was OK, but it still took four-tenths of a second to get 195,000 images. Tsk! Tsk! How slow!

Anyway, who cares about old movies? It would be more exciting if we could look at something more interesting — like horses. Can we do that? Probably not. Oh, well, let’s try it.

So? What’s so exciting about that? Took a whole two-tenths of second for a measly 242,000,000 results. Let’s try some other things. Apple pie: 88,000,000; cats: 1,320,000,000; dancing: 1,390,000,000. Beginning to get the idea?

OK, so we’ve got pictures. What about some information? Enter horses again. Put your pointer over the second image in the upper left corner of the screen, the two horses coming toward you through tall grass. But don’t click the mouse button, just put your pointer over the image. See? It expands. It tells you a bit about itself. Now click on it and watch it get bigger.

But that’s not the important part. The important part comes when you click on the little X in the upper right hand corner of the horse picture. Try it. See what happened? Now you’re on a site that is talking about horses in Maine and New Hampshire. That’s where that image came from. Not interested in Maine and New Hampshire? Fine. Click your back button. See that horse down in the third line? — The one with the milk white neck and the white blaze on its forehead? — Click on it and then click on the X as you did before. See? Information on horse breeds from A to Z.

And consider this: There are 242,000,000 images for you to look through, and every one of them will send you — if you want it to — to some site about horses.

Before you get tied down doing that, though, try this: enter Saint Patrick’s, Karachi. How about that? Not a bad place to marry a pretty British girl named Lolly, is it? Anyway, I thought it was. By the way, there are three other Catholic churches in Karachi, not to mention all the other churches. Try it. There are, I remember, three Baptist churches.

You a history buff? Enter Ancient Rome: 19,000,000 results. Julius Caesar: 5,000,000 results. Ancient Egypt 44,000,000 results. Each of them in two-tenths of a second.

Hey! Want to see the movie house I went to in Staten Island, in the 1930s? Just enter Victory Theater, Staten Island. There it is. First picture in the upper left. And notice that it says that it’s no longer there. Does that give you any ideas?

You bet! You can find anything this way.

Including your past, Johnny. Including your past. You can go back and see your past.

Or anything else you could conceivably want to see.

Have fun!

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