Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Personal Knowledge vs. Google

Recently, a friend of mine opined that, with the proliferation of smartphones with internet access, there was no longer any value to being (as we both are) masters of trivia. While that may be true for, say, Quizzo contests at the corner tavern, there is still value in having sometimes obscure information stored internally.

I was reminded recently of the personal advantage of trivia. In listening to one of my superhero podcasts (Batman: the Ace of Detectives --- Pendant Productions), I heard Robin, who was receiving a transfusion after having been attacked by a vampire, say, "Hey, Daddy-o! Make that type O!" Now, I'd bet not one person in a thousand would get the reference to the Nervous Norvus song, "Transfusion" , from the mid-50s. In fact, most listeners wouldn't even know it was a reference to anything.

Similarly, many years ago, my students, knowing I was a comic book fan, asked if I'd seen the episode of The Flash on TV the night before. I started expounding on the fact that, in that episode, the character of the blind news vendor was played by Robert Shayne, who was, at that time, legally blind. I pointed out that Shayne had played Inspector Henderson on The Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the Man o' Steel, and that Shayne's character in the Flash episode had his newsstand on Bessolo Boulevard, and that George Reeves' real name had been George Bessolo. One of my students said, "Man, you enjoy that show on a whole different level than most people!" I pointed out that, the more you know, the more such references you can "get". Again, I doubt a lot of people even realized there were such references.

When the TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was on the air, there was an episode in which Buck was in a spaceport, and there were loudspeaker announcements in the background. One announcement was, "Paging Dr. Adam Strange of Alpha Centauri." Again, most people might not even realize that was an allusion, as it were, but I enjoyed it.

It does no good to be able to Google the references, if you aren't aware that they are, in fact, references. It's certainly a good thing to be able to find information, but it's even better to know the information.

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