How to Think Like a Genius 13–Old Days
September 1, 2017
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s talk about the bad old days, the days before Google and search.
Rick Rosner: That makes a good point in terms of you ought to have good web searching skills because it’s such a crazy huge resource. I grew up in Colorado and at the University we had the biggest university in the state and possibly the biggest library between, I ‘unno, California and Texas, or Arizona. It was the biggest library in several states for hundreds and hundreds and even a thousand miles in every direction. It had -
University of Colorado had a million volumes, which is huge. The public library had maybe 60 to 80,000 volumes, supposedly, but probably had be stolen and never returned from their card catalogue. Boulder had a lot of bookstores. You could try hitting bookstore. Each bookstore maybe had 8–10,000 volumes.
Compare that to Google, which depending on which statistic you look at, has either 47 billion web page or 30 trillion web pages. So at least 47,000 times more items in Google, but still 47,000 thousand more items to look than the biggest library for a thousand miles, and you don’t have to search through the library. Later, I moved to New York, where I was a fact checker for a quiz show. I checked facts. This was 87', 88', 89'. We called people on the phone who might know something and we asked them using a phone book. [Laughing]
And try to get them to answer stuff, to move forward, I first went online in 1995, and the internet sucked ass. The odds that the internet could answers your question about any given thing was about 1 in 4, but now everything is up there. For a while, on Twitter, I was looking for or making fun of sexy Halloween costumes, which meant that I was doing Google image search with sex plus some random word: sex cheese, sexy raisin, sexy crib, sex plus anything. It gives you dozens and dozens of images.
And odds are somebody has done something to make a crib sexy somewhere and Google has it. It’s just a reasonable slice of or nice thick slice that we as humans know plus a bunch of non-sense that is also interesting because non-sense has value too. All available within the time it takes to type a few words, which is kings didn’t have it 20 years ago. The richest man in the world didn’t have it 20 years ago, and it doesn’t have to make you smarter, but it could.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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Originally published at medium.com on September 2, 2017.