Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

Observation: We’ve Come a Long Way, O’Reilly

4 Feb 2009

O’Reilly is the espresso of technical publishing – its books are served up fresh, simple, elegant, always to the point, and always strong and compelling. I’ve had several good relationships with my O’Reilly books over the years, and I still look lovingly at the tattered Camel Book (so grubby and grimy from overuse) that brought me through so many programming challenges.

So Ron was reading the O’Reilly book on “High Performance Computing” today, written in the early 1990’s. He wanted to get a sense of how HPC was viewed then, what the main challenges were, and how it’s evolved from that time to the present day. What he also noticed was the back page, which in and of itself provided a strong commentary on how our technological world today has evolved in just the past fifteen years. Here it is:


Note: Picture above was taken with Android-equipped G1! Not a bad photo, huh.

How many cultural cues can you pick up? Here are the ones we noticed:

  • The single mechanism provided to order their books is email.
  • The main way to get additional information about O’Reilly books is through Gopher.
  • But there are so many ways to use gopher! From the Gopher root menu, a local client, connecting to O’Reilly’s gopher server and logging in, or even on the Web using the gopher protocol.
  • All of the gopher information is printed on a pop-out Rolodex card that you can put in the one on your desk. (Interoperability!!)
  • There’s a postcard you can snip out of the book and send to them to get information.
  • And on the postcard, you can provide either your internet or uunet e-mail address!

O’Reilly is a tech-savvy company. We can be assured these were the most appropriate channels of communication at the time!