Recently a Cleveland State student said to me, quite empathetically, “I was wondering how you guys wrote papers.”
By “you guys,” she meant “old people.” She meant “back in the day.”
She went on: “I guess you had to actually, physically travel to the library, right? And then you’d have to find the actual book you wanted, and, what?, find what you needed inside the book?”
Yes, I said. This is how it was. And if you made a mistake you had to retype the whole thing or use that cumbersome correction tape to make the mistake disappear. And I told my young students if you wanted a magazine article, you had to go to the library and find a listing in The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and then pray the library owned the exact issue you needed and that the librarian could lay her hands on it and then you had to write down all the information you needed in the library to take home with you. No copying machines.
The class was rapt. Mouths agape, heads shaking.