Online or Invisible?

A few days ago I brought a stack of old issues of ‘Look And Learn’ into the office, so that Marc could share in my happy reminiscing of the days when children’s magazines were filled with 1000+ word articles on interesting subjects. And we got to wondering just why there’s nothing like this available today. A random issue picked from the pile has articles on the power struggle after Nero’s death, the Boxer Rebellion, “When Woden Went To War”, a ‘Blue Angels’ display over Niagara Falls, how the monsters in horror films are made, the Vedda tribe of Sri Lanka, the peregrine falcon, the invention of the telephone, and brief bios of Catherine The Great, Robert Edwin Peary, and Professor Edward George Challenger

You couldn’t even get any magazine discussing this range of topics today, never mind one aimed at children (presumably children under 10, at that, although I can’t remember what age I was when I read it).

As these discussions have a tendency to do, we got sidetracked into a discussion on how the dead-tree encyclopedia market has collapsed, and how even beyond that, if information isn’t available on-line now, to many people it just doesn’t exist. (CiteSeer, the excellent service for finding scientific literature references, even has a link at the bottom of every article page, to Online or Invisible, the title of which speaks for itself!)

Marc didn’t believe that there would be anything in Look and Learn that couldn’t be found on-line, so we selected an article pretty much at random, from one of the issues, a 2 pager from May 1977, on “Tribe Without a Future”, on the Kurelu people of New Guinea.

Google returns 22 matches. Almost all of them are references to a book by Peter Matthiessen: “Under The Mountain Wall” Stone Age New Guinea”, describing his time amongst the tribe in 1961. None of them tell us anything about the tribe itself.

The “Look and Learn” article states that “although their roots date back as far as prehistoric times, the future of the Kurelu remains a great question mark which can only be answered by those who govern the future.”

Well, it’s 25 years on from that now, but if you want to know their fate, you’ll have to work harder than a visit to Google.

4 thoughts on “Online or Invisible?

  1. I was brought up on Look and Learn and still ahve a complete collection from 1962 to 1975. I waited with anticipation for it to arrive every Saturday morning. I still find the magazine absorbing and I am sure that it is the rincipal reason that I am pretty good at general knowledge quizes.

  2. I’ve updated the article to point to the new URL for the article (I guess expecting URLs to remain constant for five years is a bit much, even though they’re meant to be permanent…)

    Not a lot I can do about the broken links in _it_ though :)

  3. Certainly online distribution is immediate
    and timely … for those who have access and when it works.
    Ironically the links to the article “Online or invisible” do not work, and once you manage to successfully navigate to the article the hypertext links in the text and the bibliography do not work either.
    A growing fustration in our DIY society and a reason to remember the importance of the role libraries, librarians, the publishing industry, as guardians of one of our societies most precious resources.

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