It’s very rare for us to have the ability to travel into the past. Even rarer to experience something from the past that is unchanged. Yet last weekend I did just that. My experience felt strange.
I was using a popular software report writer that is used to connect databases with information and turn specific information into a computer report. This software program has been around for a number of years. On my bookshelf, I had a thick 3rd party manual for the software from a previous version.
During the creation of the report, I could not figure out the formula I needed to use to create an “if, then” statement so I decided to look at this manual. Much like I did often 50 years ago when I was in school, I went directly to the back of the book to look through the index to find the pages that might help me.
It felt strange that I needed to first find the page for my topic of interest by flipping through the alphabetic sequence of the index. Why can’t I go directly to the topic I am interested in like today through a Google search?
Nowhere could I find my exact problem in this index. Only the general area of interest. Making me then go through another seven pages of text to see if I could find the answer to my specific question. This is taking a lot of time. It never takes this long when using a Google search!
Then sadly, after following in the footsteps that I did often in my youth, I could not find a clear answer to my question. Leaving me with an empty feeling of “now what”. One more time, I searched the index. Looked at a few more pages. Only to place the book back on my shelf with great disappointment. No answer or help to be found.
In a Google search, we can ask the next question and even more until we find our answer. But not with a book. Its usefulness turned out to be quite limited. For it is only one book, written in a certain way, with no way to contain every answer to every question about the software.
Many times we say we don’t change but we do. In small ways over time. Writing papers and reports 50 years ago made searching through a book index a commonplace occurrence. This was preceded by going to a library and going through a card catalog to first find the books that may contain an answer. It took a lot of time to find a fact, an explanation, or an answer. .Back then it was enjoyable to “hunt” for information as It always presented a challenge.
Today, I like Google search. And surprisingly I am not as fond of the index in the back of a book. I am grateful for this experience to go back into the past and be able to see how far we have come and how well I have adapted to the future.