I suffer from a condition taught to me by my best friend Joan, whose birthday happens to be today — the same day as mine! (Happy Birthday to both of us!). When I was in high school (circa 1984-1986) she gave to me her copy of a giant single-volume encyclopedia. It was huge, thousands of pages in one big blue book. She explained how sometimes she would read about someone or something and then look up the “also see…” references at the end, then repeat the same behavior again and again. I think that encyclopedia was Joan’s version of the Internet, without all the ads of course, back in the 80’s (*Tim Berners-Lee had not yet created the World Wide Web).
So anyhow, clicking links in today’s age is much like following the “also see” references, except much easier, much faster, and you won’t accidentally tear the page if you go too fast. So here I am, looking through old blog drafts of things I started to write about and then never got back to, and I come across one about a new (at that time) Internet search tool (because we needed more of those) called YubNub. My first thought was That’s what one of the Ewoks said in Return of the Jedi (that was one of our favorite movies, minus the Ewoks). So I clicked to see if it still existed and it did! Many websites usually have an “About this site” link to a page that gives you some background. YubNub.org had a “What is this thing?” link so I clicked there and found the creator’s blog in which he mentions that the site is named after an Ewok expresion. I was right! Satisfaction comes to me when I learn something new or confirm something I believed, no matter how small.
Of course that can’t be the end of my click, click, clicking. I want more… So I went to the blog author’s main page, where I found several posts about religion that I just passed over as I looked for more “geek” stuff. Surely, someone who invented a search engine add-on would have more than just religious postings in his blog. And he did — recently he wrote about a picture of stars and his analysis, which is interesting in itself, but you have to see this picture and then read about what is actually IN the picture that you really can’t see…
So that’s where I landed. In that field of stars that I now want to download and zoom into. By the way, my long-winded semi-related trivial almost-run-on-paragraph blog POINT was the relationship between the thousands and thousands of “also see” references in an encyclopedia, the millions and millions of “links” on the Internet, and the “billions and billions of stars” (as Carl Sagan would say) in that single photo. So — I’ve just gone from an old draft of one of my own blog posts from seven years ago, followed the links from it to YubNub.org and the “What’s this thing?” page, then to the author’s blog, then to the Bad Astronomy blog at Discover Magazine’s website where I found a picture worth trillions and trillions of stars. That’s a stretch but I did it in just few clicks! I wonder how many thousands of times I’ve clicked my mouse since 1989?
** see also Hobbe’s Internet Timeline).