What I Learned On the Way to Look Up Something Else

When I was younger, the editor of our hometown newspaper wrote a couple of regular columns himself. He was a brilliant, interesting man, to be sure. His main column was S.A.’s, a play on both the word ‘essays’ and his initials. It was generally a topical column that any brilliant news editor might produce.

The other column he wrote, which appeared somewhat less regularly, was “Things I Learned On the Way to Look Up Something Else.” If you were around, looking up information in pre-internet days, did that ever happen to you? It certainly happened to me, and my personal database is considerably richer as a result. A confession: I do love the internet, and almost everything associated with it. Even though I do love the web, all the search engines like Google, Bing, and whatever else (if anything) people use really limit, if they don’t completely eliminate, learning other facts ‘on the way to look up something else.’

You don’t have to be an absolute generalist to appreciate the loss of richness in our learning that has occurred as a result of the lightning fast and digitally accurate searches for those crucial facts we are seeking when we do a modern day search. While I don’t advocate…or even personally want…to turn the clock back to the so-called ‘good old days’ before we had the wonders of computerized search, I do recommend cracking a non-fiction book from time to time. You may be surprised what interesting and useful information you’ll pick up leafing through them!


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