Back to the Books (Ironically Speaking)

“Want to lose 25 pounds? Buy our new product and do just that!”

“Click here for a free iPad!”

“Are you a good kisser? Take our kissing quiz and receive $1000!”

Now, when was the last time you were reading a book, and one of these popped up and made noises at you? Personally, I can’t recall the last time it happened. Why is that you ask? Because a good encyclopedia, dictionary, or just plain novel doesn’t run on electricity and isn’t open to the entire population for implementation of viruses. According to the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Books, books have been around since 3500 B.C. in the time of Sumerian rule. Sumerians used cuneiform alphabet, pressed in clay with a triangular stylus. Clay tablets were dried and/or lit on fire for longevity. Some even had clay envelopes, which were also inscribed, ergo, some people consider them to be the earliest form of the book.

According to Funk and Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia, Volume 14, the Internet, which we use today, was created in 1989. While reading an article from the Kansas City Star Newspaper, I found that 79% of the United States population relies on the Internet for some part of their life. This is not only a bad thing, but also a distraction from the actual lifesaver. Books: are they a thing of the past or do we still realize that they are just as useful as a computer? In order to answer this question, we must first look at the history of the Internet and how it overcame books.

The Internet was the result of some visionary thinking by people in the early 1960’s that saw great potential value in allowing computers to share information on research and development in scientific and military fields, according to the book, “Internet and Its Many Uses”. J.C.R. Licklider of MIT, first proposed a global network of computers in 1962, and moved over to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in late 1962 to head the work to develop it. Leonard Kleinrock of MIT, and later UCLA, developed the theory of packet switching, which was to form the basis of Internet connections. Lawrence Roberts of MIT connected a Massachusetts computer with a California computer in 1965 over dial-up telephone lines. It showed the feasibility of wide area networking, but also showed that the telephone line’s circuit switching was inadequate.

Kleinrock’s packet switching theory was confirmed. Roberts moved over to DARPA in 1966 and developed his plan for ARPANET. These visionaries and many more, left unnamed here, are the real founders of the Internet. The Internet soon swept over the world in a whirlwind of people of all ages. The only problem is, I stated earlier that the founders of the Internet “saw great potential value in allowing computers to share information on research and development in scientific and military fields,”; not every day use. Either way, we still use the Internet for our every day uses, but it was not supposed to be that way.

As the years went on and we reached the year of 1995, the Internet was filling the homes of people at a rate of 467 houses per day, reports the September 7, 1995 edition of “Reader’s Digest”. As the years continue on, a magazine called “Teacher’s Union”, reports in its March, 2001 edition, that 76% of schools have the Internet and use them in their class assignments and attendance counting. I cannot help but feel that this number has increased exponentially over the course of the last fifteen years. Unfortunately, the fact remains that the Internet is taking over and in many ways.

One of the most obvious ways is the implementation and importance of emails. In the times of the Sumerians, Julius Caesar, the Civil War, the Roaring 20’s, and even in the time of my father’s high school period, emails did not exist and other means were used. In my younger years when I wanted to write to somebody, I used a pen and some paper. In today’s society, whenever students do a school project on the actual school grounds, they most likely email it to themselves so as not to lose it. When I was in school,  there were numerous occasions where my printer at home would not work, and I would rely on my email to let me print it at school. When I arrived at school, I found that the email would not open and I wouldn’t be able to print it. Now, you are probably thinking, “Then why didn’t you just write it out?” There are several reasons: First, I have really bad handwriting, but, second, that just proves my point. I relied too much on the computer and the Internet to get my work done and something happened. Towards the latter end of my school years, no teacher or professor would accept anything but a computer typed paper. Not so perfect, is it?

A second way the Internet has taken over is its role in research. When I was in high school, I participated in debate. The research we presented at debate tournaments was found almost primarily via the Internet. In the year 1988, before the Internet was available to us, how did the debate team at my old high school get their evidence? Books. Magazines. Not the Internet. So if the debaters in 1988 could get evidence without the Internet, why can’t we? We can, it’s just that we feel the need to get things done faster, or we sometimes feel that it is better, regardless of whether it actually is or not.

A third way it has taken over is the way we run some of our businesses. My father, an ex Real Estate Appraiser, kept all of his work on the computer. My father also used Mapquest during his earlier years and other programs on the Internet for his job. My parents are divorced, and we lived off of his paycheck. Now, if the computer were to crash or something happened to our Internet, my family would have been in a lot of trouble. I recently saw an ad on television that was showcasing the accessibility of paying bills online. Of course, this would save a lot of time and energy, but the risk is well worth it, correct? The Internet is not a bad thing, nor is it going to cause our ways of life to become corrupt, but it can make a big enough impact and possible danger to our lives. This was seen during the Y2K scare in 1999.

The Internet was sweeping across our world in amazing numbers in 1999. Everybody believed that when the date turned to January 1, 2000, every computer and piece of electrical device in the world would crash. According to the book, “Internet and Its Many Uses”, in December of 1999, over 75% of United States started deleting important things from their computer or saving them on floppy disks. In the end, nothing really happened on that transition from 1999 to 2000. Everything was just a big scare. But, had we not been so wrapped up in using this amazing technology, the scare would have never happened. Even Kindles, and other electronic reading devices, have popped up in spectacular fashion all over the globe. I would be lying if I didn’t say I owned a Kindle and usually resort to reading my books through that device. So, the Internet and computers have taken over our lives, and in a sense, replaced books; through e-mail, businesses, research, and even in the way we run our schools. In the eyes of so many people, books have become a thing of the past. 

What shall we do about this “thing of the past” problem? About a week ago, I was working on a PowerPoint presentation for my online classes about fairy tales. In my works cited, I had to put three to five online sources. After completing the project, I looked in a book called, “The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales”, and found the exact information that I had gotten on the Internet.

 Whether it be the Sumerians in 3500 B.C., Phoenician writing in 800 B.C., the public library in Rome in 370 A.D., or the popup Harry Potter book in 2004, books have been the foundation of education, businesses, music, and even sports. Now, we are trying to ruin this gift with technology. I am not trying to persuade you with, “the Internet is bad, don’t use it.” I am just trying to bring that gift back to us. The Internet is helpful and serves a good purpose in our everyday lives, but books still exist. Every bit of information that I have passed over to you has been from a book or magazine. It is possible. Now, imagine sitting at home, and your computer crashes and some electrical wires burst. You lose everything on the computer. This includes the Internet, the report due for work the next day, your online bills, and that favorite game you just bought Online. You turn and look at the bookshelf by the wall. Sitting there is a stack of books, completely untouched, not broken, and not burnt up. Sitting there is the gift, to which we still have access. Don’t make books a thing of the past, but make them the thing of the present.

(All cited information within this post was acquired via an actual physical book)


    1. I love the entire irony of the post. Using outdated and relatively unreliable paper books to post an opinion on the Internet about how the Internet can be bad mm’kay? 😀


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