Friday, February 12, 2010
The First Google
Prior to the advent of internet searches, information and tools could be hard to find. Local library, local stores, telephone book, word of mouth , were all means of obtaining information and tools but could be limited in scope. This catalog, started by Stuart Brand in 1968 attempted to include sources for books and pamphlets which may have been at the edges of what was obtainable locally. Here you may find information on communes, building your own sauna, ordering a parachute, carving a pipe, building a tipi or log home, desert farming, and a book which I may look to see if it is still available called "The practical cogitator". There is a running drama on the pages of the catalog called "Divine Right's Trip" which is interesting to read as you peruse the pages, and tends to draw you into the rest of the page which contains summaries and comments on the books presented for sale. Readers could submit writeups of books or catalogs and would be paid $10 if their presentation was printed in the next supplement. Between fall of '68 and spring of '71 there were 14 updates/supplements sold to stay current with what was available and add new sources.
I used to collect catalogs and still have a pile of useless ones since they are mostly way out of date (I still get a few sent to me which is odd because the companies now have an on-line presence and need not print them.)
On the cover of the first Whole Earth Catalog was a photo of the whole earth taken from an ATS satellite in November 1967. It is said to be the first full-earth picture published. (Eat your words flat-earthers.)
But we can now search on any topic or item and get many sources and possibilities for products and reading. What need for libraries or stores when anything can come in the mail?
I marvel at the possibilities; but do wonder what exists out there and may not be available by punching keys.