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.