Throwback Thursday: The Chicago Public Library Information Service, Circa 1993
How would you settle a bet over how many career triples Pete Rose had? Or what’s the primary export of Peru? Where would you go to find the answer? These days, we’d just turn to the internet, where almost all of recorded human knowledge is collected and readily available at our fingertips. The Internet has drastically changed our ability to find and research even the most trivial of topics, so it’s almost astonishing to think that just twenty years ago, you would have had to call the library.
In 1993, Doug Sawyer and Wendy Miller went to the Harold Washington Library to document the Chicago Public Library Information Service for a segment for Chicago Slices. The footage never made it to air, and this unique service soon faded into relative obscurity as internet search engines outpaced its usefulness. Thankfully, it hasn’t been forgotten.
The raw tape survived and has now been digitized through the support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and supporters like you. So take a moment and look back into a past nearly forgotten, and reflect on just how much change can happen in 20 short years.
Before answering, consider this: if it were a country, it would be the third largest nation on earth. With 850 million users, it actually eclipses the US population by 550 million! As any entity grows, so does the lack of privacy and protection.
These were the opening shots in last week’s national Fox & Friendsinterview (Facebook: Privacy and Your Rights) with Lori Andrews:
Really, how many things did you reveal about yourself online today? You’ll be surprised. More surprised, however, to find out where even the most unassuming information ends up. Thankfully, Lori will offer insight and present ways to protect the privacy of your digital self.
Quite simply — if you’ve used the internet today (something tells us you have), you can’t afford to miss this.
Seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Registration is not required.
As you likely learned, Wikipedia led the charge, temporarily shutting down the English version of its site for 24 hours. Not surprisingly, there’s already a Wikipedia page about Wikipedia shutting down for the day.
Other sites like Google, Reddit and Wired - 7,000 in all - enacted various measures of shutdown, giving their own unique nod of disapproval.
Even the LOLcatsover at icanhascheezburger.com took the day off to help raise awareness. A move which prompted some cyber circles to brand yesterday as “the day the LOLcats died.” And, in typical internet form, prompted a guy with a guitar, a camera and iMovie to rapidly release this instant classic:
All LOLs aside, the protests seem to have worked. According to CNN, many lawmakers are rethinking their support of controversial bills, including those who had strongly backed them before yesterday. With significantly less steam, SOPA is still working its way through Congress and PIPA is pending before the full Congress.
Despite all of the protest and petition publicity, plenty of people were still in the dark over the widespread web blackout. The Washington Post published a piece this morning offering five unintentionally hilarious questions from the confused.
1.) SOPA — What does it have to do with soap/soup? - SOPA is “soup” in Spanish, and with a simple letter switch, it’s also soap. Confusion ensues:
“I swear when I saw everyone talking about that SOPA thingy, I thought they were talking about eating soup O.o” - Sharol
“What is SOPA and why did they name it soup?” - Juan
“I Don’t know what SOPA is. What is sopa. Is it Soap?” - Joaquin
“Asked a chick what she think about #SOPA…she said she take baths every night, using Ivory SOAP.” - Derelle
“Why does government ban on SODA affect wikipedia? please answer i need to ffinish essay.” - Eric
2.) PIPA — What does it have to do with Pippa Middleton?
“When i first heard the term PIPA, i thot Pippa middleton was up to something! ;-)” - Arwa
“I get SOPA is “stop online piracy act” but wth is PIPA? I thought she was just Kate Middleton’s sister …… ?” - Victoria
“Obviously this is Pippa’s own fault. You can’t put THAT backside in THAT white dress and not expect people to want to pirate it. #PIPA” - Erin
3.) SOPA/PIPA — What’s so bad about sopapillas? - Another “lost in translation” joke about how the legislation would be just delicious. Sopapillas are fried pastry desserts.
“ I can’t take SOPA seriously when it’s so close to the word “Sopapilla”. Such a delicious treat….” - Brandi
"Sopa Pipa. I love those with honey! #sopapilla #SOPA #PIPA” - Michael
"I DON’T GET IT, WHY IS EVERYONE SO WORKED UP OVER SOPAPILLA?!" – Justin
4.) Wikipedia blackout — OMG THE SITE IS GONE FOREVER. - Some people were confused about the duration of the Wikipedia blackout.
“Is wikipedia died? RIP WIKIPEDIA” - Joey
“Wikipedia, thanx for getting me through ALOT of my classes the past couple of years, ill miss u #RIP” - Curry N Fries
“THERE’S NO WIKIPEDIA FOR 24 HOURS OMG WHAT IS THIS, WHAT IF THEY GET RID OF IT FOREVER OMG.” - Gavin
5.) Wikipedia blackout — Why did congress/President Obama shut down Wikipedia? - Others were confused about where the blackout was coming from, perhaps assuming that SOPA and PIPA had already passed.
“OMG so p***ed Obama shut down wikipedia!!” - Dax
“You see Wikipedia? The US congress has already banned wiki for the last 24 hours.” - Deborah
“OMG why is wikipedia working again????? REPEAL OBAMA YOU COMMUNISTS.” - Ryan
“thanks to OBAMA wikipedia is shut down!” - Brando
“It’s some US congress thingy that banned Wikipedia for a day because they wanted to live in a world without free knowledge :(“ - Natasha
If you slept through yesterday or just stepped off a transatlantic flight, hopefully our comprehensive post has you all caught up on the SOPA / PIPA happenings.
Oh, and should the bills pass, or should something like this ever happen again — remember something…
The shelves at Chicago Public Library don’t just shut down, cordoned off with black tape. The content at Chicago Public Library is free, open and uncensored. It always has been. It always will be.