Let me preface this by saying that I am just old enough to remember the Encyclopedia Britannica shelved behind our front door at my house on Bluegrass and using it frequently for research "papers" (I mean, I'm not sure a 3rd grader writes a real-honest-to-goodness paper, but a report, I guess). I also remember my dad reading the encyclopedia from cover to cover, which was my first clue that he may have a little trouble relating to me on all of the boy drama in my life - it had nothing to do with the War of 1812. The internet is doing things that poor Britannica never had a prayer of accomplishing. But mostly, it has made it much easier to contact those who, at one time, seemed unreachable. I can think of 3 distinct examples just in the past month or so.
1) A friend of mine in Chicago (let's call her Queen Elizabeth) wanted to buy her friend (let's call her Princess Natasha) a book by a Chicago author for her birthday. She also wanted this author to autograph the book. So, because Princess Natasha's birthday was before the book signing, Queen Elizabeth emailed the author and asked for a signed copy of the book in exchange for a check. Not only did this customer-service-oriented author send a signed copy of the book ASAP, she also waived all fees. Britannica could have never pulled that off.
2) While watching the Today Show a few weeks ago, I caught an interview that Meredith did with 2 new authors of the best Some-Men-Suck book ever. (Yes, I said some..as opposed to all...but some really do). Liz Dubelman and Barbara Davilman have written a book called What Was I Thinking?: 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories. Having experienced one or two bad boyfriends myself, I tracked down their website. There are many more than 58 stories on the site and suddenly I felt so much better about being dumped the week before Prom. If you're a girl or a gay guy, you should totally check it out. If you're a straight guy, forget it; women don't do those sorts of insensitive things and you would never appreciate it (OK, maybe we do but certainly not unprevoked). So, I emailed Liz Dubelman and told her what literary geniuses they were. And she emailed me back!! Right, that might seem small and insignificant compared to getting an email from Nelson Mandela...but still...that would have never resulted from a stack of books on the shelf. And footnote: you can purchase their book on Amazon RIGHT NOW..for only $13. Isn't that cheaper than the cost of your sanity and seeing a psychiatrist for the next 15 years?
3) Lastly, but perhaps most cool (for me, anyway) is the email I received from Robert Matt yesterday. There is a very good chance that you have never heard of Robert Matt before...partly because he's out of the UK or Germany, I can't figure out which one..and partly because he's been writing with the group, Future Tribe. But if you have an intervention-type CNN addiction, then you have probably seen the Korean Air commercial with a cool, jazzy, almost sexual-sounding song in the background. The first time I saw the commercial I had NO idea what they were advertising. But for me, the combination of the song and ad are so hypnotic that it never gets old (unlike the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish ad which no longer makes me giggle uncontrollably but instead makes me want to throw the toaster at the TV). So, I googled "song from Korean Air Commercial" which lead to the song's title, Breathing the Blue, which lead to finding Robert Matt's website and his personal email. I emailed Mr. Matt after an exhaustive search online, on iTunes, and on Microsoft Zune to ask him where I could download the song...emphasizing that I really wanted a reputable site where he would get paid for it. Yesterday, he emailed back to say that he had run short on time for airing the commercial and had only completed 60 seconds of Breathing the Blue but he was now inspired to finish ASAP and would let me know where to find it when it was finished. In the meantime, would I please enjoy the attached 60 second download that he had completed? Wow. That's awesome. It's downloaded to the Blackberry now because just the first 10 seconds will bring me off the ledge and I'm currently checking out his work on iTunes under Future Tribe. His album is titled Yulara and is very new age-y and smooth jazz-y, but I HIGHLY recommend it.
No, I did not send emails to Gwenyth Paltrow or the King of Spain, but then they haven't done anything that interests me lately. What is interesting is how this big, round world has, with the help of the internet, gotten a whole lot smaller.