Thomas E. Watson and an Unified Internet Test


Everybody I know, over the age of sixteen, has a cell phone. Well, almost everybody (I think I do know one, full-grown, adult that hasn’t felt the need, yet). I got my first cell phone in the late 70s or early 80s – we called them car phones then, the first time I heard the term cell phone was during the O.J. Simpson Trial, by Mark Fuhrman – and I thought I was a real innovator. An innovator as defined in Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovationsinnovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards.

But I am just flattering myself, I am probably just an early adopter or early majority. Somebody who picks up on a trend before everybody’s grandmother but way after the innovator’s have moved on. Maybe moved on is the wrong term because most things just move in and stay. Nobody has really moved on from cell phones. I am not the kind of guy who would opt for a BMW 1600 in 1966, going with a FIAT 124 Coupe instead, but I did buy a BMW Bavaria in 1972.

As an aside, even in 1972, most people did not know what a BMW was. I would pull into a gas station and people would ask me if it was Japanese. This was my company car and the company I worked, Shapell Home Builders, the founder had been in Auschwitz and was Jewish enough to shut the company for Yom Kippur but not Hanukkah and, fortunately he had no idea that the B in BMW stood for Bavaria. End aside.

Either way, The Internet was another of those things in which I was not an innovator. I remember complaining to a techy friend that there was nothing on The Internet worth looking up and his answer was The only things on The Internet are things that somebody wants on The Internet. That made sense, General Motors wanted on, CircusCircus wanted on, but nobody really cared if Senator Thomas Watson was on the internet. Except, at the time, me.

I am sort of a sucker for Southern Populism, I don’t know why, but I am (even though it so often deteriorates into southern racism). I liked Huey Long, The Kingfish, even when I knew I shouldn’t, and Bear Bryant. I could listen to Art Williams talk about term life insurance; forever. And, for about a week, I was fascinated by Senator Thomas E. Watson of Georgia, but he didn’t exist on the Internet, the only Thomas Watson was Tom Watson, the golfer and I wasn’t particularly interested in him. I decided that the Internet really wouldn’t be useful until information like Senator Thomas Watson was on it. That would be my test, Senator Thomas Watson. Every once in awhile I would search for Watson and then I forgot about it while I, increasingly, used the Internet.

On President’s Day, however, a friend sent me a quote from George Washington.  Shift that fat ass Harry or you’ll swamp the damned boat!. It just seemed so un founding father like, I wondered if it were really true. I reflexively Googled it. After .61 seconds, I had 241,000 results. The one I like the best is the second one, on page 441 of Patriots by A. J. Langguth where it says Washington had nudged Knox with his boot, while crossing the Delaware in the bitter chill and sleet  and said  Shift that fat ass Harry, but slowly  or you’ll swamp the damned boat!

The book was written in 1988 and the page was a scan. That is astounding! Senator Thomas Watson, himself, gets About 4,100,000 results (0.57 seconds)! Included in the results is the news that Crews removed Tom Watson’s statue Friday from the steps of the Capitol….The work came a month after state officials acknowledged their plans to relocate the bronzed Watson, a one-time populist turned white supremacist who vilified blacks, Catholics and Jews. Humm, I didn’t know that but, anyway, I am so over him.

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