Bookmarks as cultural artifacts & the Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device

I’ve got a night table drawer full of bookmarks and there are a couple worth sharing because they are hilarious, and are excellent cultural artifacts.

This one must be from about 1993 or so, judging by the compuserve email addresses. Remember those? Anyway, it’s a whole book dedicated to listing email addresses of the rich and famous!

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What a weird list of contacts. Beavis and Butthead are cartoon characters, not even real people. And what is the Canadian Human Rights Commission doing on this list? Ha, I wonder if their email address is still! Ah, the heady, early days of the web…

It’s a funny reminder of the fact that it used to be a VERY BIG DEAL to have any possibility of direct contact with famous people (Canadian Human Rights Commission excepted, lol). These days you can interact with whomever you admire through social media, following all their daily activities and occasionally catching some off-colour opinions in their drunk tweets. As a teenager growing up in the 80s, all I could do was pore over the photos and liner notes of an LP, imagining my heroes’ lives, and hope that a music magazine might feature an article on them at some point so I could learn more. So perhaps this book was more important at the time than we think it might have been, as being able to get direct contact was not at all commonplace.

This next bookmark, from Book City, is great. Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge Device — the BOOK! I’m guessing I’ve had this one kicking around for at least twelve years. Happily (and surprisingly), almost all of the store locations listed on the bookmark are still in operation, except for two (Bloor West Village and Queen West). I would’ve thought the electronic revolution along with the invasion of big-box retailers would have done more damage. But Book City prevails!

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“Even a child can operate it!”  “A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet!”  “The Browse function allows instant movement to any sheet, forward or backward!”  Reading this is a good reminder how we think new technologies are so incredible, when in reality they do things we could already do, only often not as well.  (I still can’t flip through pages or jump around in a book very easily with my Kobo.)

Of all the pleasure reading I do, which I do almost every night at bedtime, I’d say about two-thirds of the books I read are hard copy books and one-third are e-books on the Kobo. I’ve got a Mini Kobo which is great for traveling because it’s compact and lightweight, but when packing a stack of books to take somewhere isn’t a factor, I still prefer the feel of a book in my hand. I find that I also remember more about the book if I read a hard-copy of it…something about seeing the full-colour artwork on the jacket every day while it’s on my night table makes more of an impression on my brain.  And don’t get me started about losing the ability to share a book with your friends or family after you’ve read it in the age of the e-book. Mobile technology, although in many ways supposed to make us more connected to each other, sometimes has the opposite effect.

Have you got a preference? Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device or e-reader?

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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