Life Before GoogleThe internet came out around the time I was in college. For my one (much dreaded but required) public speaking course, I had an assignment to prepare a speech using the internet as the sole source of research. The topic I had chosen was "lucid dreams", and so I searched for lucid dreams for hours. One, same, damn, useless website was the only result, no matter what I did. Apparently there was only one person who had posted an article on lucid dreams on the entire world wide web. It was my first time really using the internet for anything other than email, and I was not impressed.
In my senior year, my last paper was on poetry. I had decided to examine how Baudelaire and Rilke approached writing about love. I went to the main branch of the New York Public Library to get some books on these poets. I doubt it even occurred to me to try the internet at that point. This library was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen. Vast ceilings, intricately designed everything, a zillion books. I ended up spending two weeks working on that paper, and it turned out to be the best I ever wrote. When I found it a few years later I could not believe it was me that wrote it. My professor wrote A++ on it, probably because her mind was blown that a senior would put that much effort into a paper that had zero potential to impact her life. But I think it was that library that inspired me.