Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Answer Machine

Oh, how far we’ve come.  Just the other day I was fondly recalling a family card game.  It was cutthroat, loud, and I recall some cheating going on by one particular person.  Conversations were ebbing and flowing, matching the game’s ups and downs.  Then, as certain as Christmas, a question would eventually come up that no one knew the correct answer to.  Well, at least two people were certain that they knew the correct answer as the challenges of the others in our family game night clutch besieged their notions. 

Then, without fail, the mad dash to the living room would divert our attentions from gaming to truth seeking.  Jostling and page shuffling would ensue as we groped the encyclopedia and ferreted out the answer.

Errrr, encyclo – what!?  Yeah, it seems that you either need to hit the correct ripple in time or step into the way-back machine to remember this...early 1990’s. Yep, a grand ol’ time when computers and their invasive technology weren’t in every home, much less at the finger tip. 

Yep, manual research was the way to find answers.  How those burning questions seared our hearts and plagued our souls during family game night. The correct answer must be found.  The repercussions for not finding the correct answers would result in casualties.  Correct answer—NOW!  The truth must be found for it seemed blackened eyes or, the much worse, bruised ego depended upon it.  Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but I do recall a particular Parcheesi game that got way out of hand one time, but I digress…

Then came the time, etched in my mind forever, the first time a friend “paid up” to find the answer to one of those burning question.  The place: Flying Saucer bar in Little Rock with the Internet on her new fangled cell phone.  Believe that?  Wow, Internet on a phone. The burning question: How old is Olivia Newton-John? Oh, the gravity answering that question.  Wagers in pints and drinking penalties were exchanged, and then silence fell as we all watched the phone “thinking” in the middle of the table. 

Another world, no, but certainly another time. Today answers are at our fingertips, literally.  I can answer burning questions, averting bodily and financial harm, on just about any subject my brain can conjure in a matter of seconds now. Easy, painless.

Recently, I discovered InfoBarrel while searching for truth concerning one of those burning questions. InfoBarrel? Why InfoBarrel?  Well, the question was an exact match, just what I was looking for.  The plain Google search is great, don’t get me wrong, but InfoBarrel was informative.  InfoBarrel employs “crowdsourcing” for information.

Crowdsourcing uses everyday people to find the answers to questions people are searching for.  People like you and me seek the information and write about it in our own way.  I find the articles on InfoBarrel to be both more informative and relevant in many ways.  There are some real gems there and sometimes the plain, efficient style of typical information sharing is thrown to the wind and an artist speaks.

The other reason I like InfoBarrel so much, is that I have a special place in my heart for aspiring and struggling artists.  I feel that someone who is working diligently at creating their art, and sure, trying to make a penny or two while doing it, really deserves the clicks and the link love. 
Now, I wonder what happened to those encyclopedias…as I recall, one game night we found a stash of Jackson’s in there….

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