Mathematical typewriters

I was talking to my girlfriend’s grandfather earlier today at an Easter brunch. He’s an old British man who walks with a cane and has eyes that twinkle in that stereotypical way. We were following that standard progression of questioning about my post college plans or lack thereof when he started to reflect on his own college experience.

He went to school in Aberdeen in England, and his first degree was in Botany. He said he had always intended to go to graduate school, so he had never worried about the prospects that degree in botany might provide. He then went to graduate school and spent two years writing a thesis on statistics. And here comes the weird part. He spent two years writing his thesis, and then waited two more years for it to be typed for him on a mathematical typewriter.

That’s not something we have to worry about these days. Imagine spending two years completing research and handwriting a document, and then waiting an equal amount of time for it to be put into a form where you could present it. It wasn’t that long ago when disseminating information was something that was extremely time consuming.  If I wanted to share something I had written, I would have to type out as many individual copies as I wanted to give out. As a millennial, this is incomprehensible.

This conversation helped put things into perspective for me. My last blog post was about how too much access information could be a bad thing, but now I think about how much I’ve learned from the internet and the benefits become clear. I’m glad I don’t have to type individual copies of this post.


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