The Internet

“Fifty years ago, two letters were transmitted online, forever altering the way that knowledge, information, and communication would be exchanged,” wrote Joshua Bote in USA TODAY October 29, 2019. Those letters were “l” and “o” and perceived as “hello” when the system crashed before the word “login” could be typed. They were sent by a professor at UCLA to another computer at Stanford Research Institute.

At that time only four universities had computers. They were room-sized and required under-floor air conditioning. In 1971, the first email was sent by an MIT researcher and was also the first time the “@” sign was used to designate a specific recipient of a message. I remember the early days when researching medical papers I had to go through a university (@edu) library which would search and produce the Internet address for the requested information.

The World Wide Web (WWW), as we know it, didn’t get invented until 1989 and it was 1991 before the first web page was published. Over the years other services that we are all so familiar with were created, Amazon (1995), Google (1998), Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006) among others.

Now the internet is as much a part of our lives as driving a car or brushing our teeth. We can access information on any topic, find the answers to burning questions, listen to music and see movies. When I see my granddaughter, a college senior, doing research and taking tests Online, I recall trips to the library and searching through a card catalog. Once the desired journal or paper was located we photocopied it for preparing our research papers. I am glad that she and all students have it easier than we did “back in the day.”

I am sure that I am not alone when I say I love the Internet, warts and all. We know that it can be corrupted, both operationally and politically but we would never go back to a time without the WWW.

Internet
Graphic Courtesy of Pixabay

Facebook

Goodbye Facebook

Several friends have asked me why I deleted my Facebook account a few months ago. They miss my comments and photos. They miss me. I do not doubt this because I miss them also. I miss their updates and photos and I miss being in contact. But we see Facebook through the lens of their own relationships. Friends, grandchildren, lovers, church members, baby photos, kitten videos, all good I thought.

I was one of over 2 billion users, showing off with little to no thought of how my personal information was being used. I didn’t read the terms of the agreement or try to understand the privacy settings. I was having fun and for free!

Giving up Facebook was not something I did lightly. After being a member for so many years it was a sacrifice. One thing I’ve learned though and not unexpectedly is that while being a member I was sacrificing time. The time that I could be doing more productive things but this is not why I left Facebook.

My last comment on Facebook before I departed was this:

“I have been betrayed. Facebook used me and used my friends and our data. More importantly, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have endangered the democracy of the US and the safety of democracy globally. After 10 years of FB membership, I am hurt and disillusioned. I will never be back and will encourage others to take the same step.”

Full Stop

That is the reason and it is not hyperbole. Facebook sold our information to a foreign government through Cambridge Analytica and by other means. Cambridge Analytica alone obtained information from 50 million Facebook user profiles without permission from members.

Experts believe that Facebook, more than any other social media platform, has facilitated the spread of fraudulent news because of its vast number of users and the many mechanisms it offers for sharing information quickly.*

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Billions $

Facebook lost over $120 billion in stock on July 26, the largest one-day stock loss in history when investors dumped over 20%. One might say it serves them right, but how many millions did they make off us over the past three years or so? Also, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t miss his $16 billion loss any more than I’d miss one hundred. He is a multibillionaire, down from third richest person to the sixth. I do not begrudge him his wealth, but I vehemently resent how he earned it off of unsuspecting members, like me, like my friends and family.

Those fun Facebook quizzes were designed to learn our preferences and our weaknesses which were played upon in advertising and bogus news. I didn’t do many quizzes but learned that when my friends did so it opened up my data. This devious plan duped the highly educated professional just as it did the uninformed.

Zuckerberg has a history of saying “I’m sorry” but that is not enough when things stay the same. Facebook VP Carolyn Everson recently made the following statement:  “The entire company is focused. We’re adding over 10,000 people, we’re using technology to help us find bad actors and bad behavior.” It doesn’t take that many people nor technology to figure out that the bad actor is the company founder and CEO.

No Return

I’m enjoying the extra hour or so I used to spend on Facebook each day even though I do miss folks I care about. True friends will stay in touch, the other few hundred not so much.

I hope that others have reached a similar decision, but I am only responsible for my own and I refuse to be used to weaken the democracy of the country I love.

Sources: CBS This Morning and *Alicia Shepard of USA Today and NPR.

“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice speak out because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”                Thurgood Marshall

 

Graphics by Pixabay

Looking Back

Do You Remember?

  • Sprinkling laundry and refrigerating it in a plastic bag before ironing? Do you even remember ironing?
  • Cars not having air-conditioning, turn signals, seat belts nor heaven help us, cup holders?
  • Dialing a telephone, i.e., spinning that dial with one finger?
  • Car hops who delivered your food order which you then ate in the car?
  • Visiting folks without calling before dropping in?
  • When you kept up with relatives and friends by writing letters, known today as snail mail? 

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  • Blue Laws which required businesses to stay closed on Sunday? And, then later when they were allowed to open only after church “let out” at noon?
  • Women not wearing pants to church or much of anywhere else? I remember the first nurse who wore a pants uniform in our city. There was an article and photo in the local newspaper!
  •  When cameras had both film and flashbulbs? 

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  • When schools had recess?
  • Books were not audible?
  • When passengers smoked on airplanes during flight?
  • Farmers (usually the wife) killing their chickens for food? 
  • When unwanted pets were “dropped”?  Sadly, it still happens today. Here’s one named Jackson that was fortunate enough to be found and adopted.IMG_6272

I Remember

And the list could go on and on.  I make no judgment. For the most part, I like the ways things are today and I love technology. That does not mean I don’t grow nostalgic at times thinking about how some things were in the past. 

Books

Do You Still Read Books?

Do you have books or do you use a Kindle or other eReader? Do you read or listen to electronic books? Since all the information in the world is available on the Internet, do we even need books anymore?

 

 

If you still have real paper books where do you store them? What do you do with a book when you’ve finished reading it? Do you loan it to a friend? Do you donate it or sell it for a fraction of the price you paid for it? Or can you not part with it at all?

Exploring Books

Over the next few blog posts let’s talk about books and what they mean to us in today’s world.  Let’s discuss how and what we read and how that has changed over time. I look forward our discussion and will start out with a brief confession about my reading.

Confession  

I have always been a very slow reader. I cannot scan. I cannot rush and still comprehend written material. For some reason, I seem to mentally pronounce each little preposition and I often must go back and reread a sentence or paragraph because my mind has wandered onto some earth shattering issue or maybe my grocery list. 

Coming Up: Your First Book Memory and Your Bookshelf

Part 1 of 5

 

Medicine

The Bookshelf

Bookshelves barely exist today. Those that remain often contain old books left over from a former era or perhaps ones with some sentimental memory attached. I must admit that I still like the feel of a real book and I like to highlight and make notes in margins. I can do that with my Kindle but it just does not feel the same. I will admit though that clicking on an unfamiliar word and having the definition pop up on the screen is a valuable feature of electronic readers. 

1970s Print

This framed print from my office is a drawing by Robert Conley.  Conley’s art was in tribute to nurses who cared for his terminally ill wife in the 1970s. I love it for many personal reasons, but I’m sharing it today to point out two essential medical books of that era. The Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) and The Merck Manual seen here were essentials in any clinical area. The PDR was published each year and contained page after page of details about each prescription drug available.  It was heavily used by doctors and nurses alike. The Merck Manual explained diagnoses and treatments. I am willing to bet that you do not recall seeing either of these in the past thirty years and younger readers will not likely remember ever seeing a doctor referencing a book of any kind. 

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The reason, of course, is that now all this information and so much more is available and up to date electronically. This easily accessible data saves time and, no doubt lives. One only needs a handheld device to answer any inquiry. 

1910 Manuscript

Recently I ran across a few pages I had photocopied from an old book at some point long ago. I have no recollection why I had them or had kept them, but I’m glad that I did. Especially since that out of all “Twenty Books” in the “One Volume” I had chosen to copy Book VIII entitled “Sexology.”

Library of Health – Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease

Edited by B. Frank School, Ph.G, M.D.

Graduate of Jefferson Medical College and Philadephia College of Pharmacy

Table of Contents:

Anatomy, Physiology and Preventive Medicine, Curative Medicine, First Aid Measures, Diagnosis, Nursing, Sexology, Simple Home Remedies, Care of the Teeth, Occupational Diseases, Garden Plant Remedies, Alcohol and Narcotics, Treatment by Fifteen Schools of Medicine, Beauty Culture, Physical Culture, the Science of Breathing and the Dictionary of Drugs. 

Historical Publishing Co.          Philadelphia, PA


In the next few posts, I will summarize some of the wisdom contained in this 108-year-old manuscript. So if you have questions about courtship, matrimony, procreation and more HANG ON! The answers are on the way. 

Part 1 of 4