Back in the Good ‘Ole Days…

I thought about posting this one yesterday, but then I switched. So unfortunate, as it would have been the perfect coincidence after some of our topical discussions in my latest class, Organizational Behavior. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we? Back to the days before the internet, when research had to be done with… gasp… actual books!

I was in 7th grade when I was first exposed to the internet. Our teacher had just set up Netscape Navigator, and she told us that we had to use at least one internet source for our history project. We were told to come up to her computer, type any question into the blank box, and then use the most appropriate answer with a link. I typed in some ridiculously long question, without any boolean logic or key words, and got 0 search results. Yeah, how is this magic box thingie helpful?

– By high school, we were all really proficient with the internet. So proficient, that our teachers starting requiring at least two book sources for our projects! Everything had to be cited using the standard MLA format, including our internet links. We weren’t allowed to use Wikipedia as a source for any of our projects, since that information was CLEARLY unreliable.

– By the end of college, the professors just started asking us for a list of links that were used to our sources. The MLA formatting for a bunch of links was pretty silly, since they could just click directly to the source from the last slide of our PowerPoint presentation. They could also put our papers into a third party content manager to find out exactly which percentage of our paper was plagiarized. I think the third party content system is much more effective than the MLA formatting for a bunch of Marketing majors using the latest data for real-world companies.

– Now, in the professional world and graduate school, everyone recommends “Google it”, “Bing it” and “Wiki it”. Yes, Wikipedia is often recognized as a reasonable place to at least start the research process. Statistics are known to be old, since we can’t collect and process the data as fast as we need to, so everything just says, “as of [date]”, and everyone just assumes that it’s actually accelerated well beyond whatever the statistics says on the screen.

Man that was a long walk! It seems like it’s been forever since I first used the internet, and now I’m the “social media expert” at work! My biggest takeaway from my encounters with the somewhat tech un-savvy, is that tech doesn’t fundamentally change how humans think and act. Yes, we can share information faster and broader, and yes, the internet never forgets. But, humans still need connection, interaction, and feedback. Thus, as a marketer, I view technology, specifically social media, as another tool. You don’t have to throw 20 years of business experience out the window, but you do need to take a new perspective to see how this latest tool fits into your overall strategy. How do you utilize this tool to meet the fundamental human needs that still exist? I’m already excited about this Organizational Behavior class, since it will allow me to dive deep into how people think, and why they do what they do. Combine that with all the latest tools, and you’ve got a fun set of issues to contend with. So, where were you when that new-fangled internet first came into your life?


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