Imagine explaining the internet to someone from the early 1900s

By Greg Turnquist

Greg L. Turnquist worked on the Spring team for over thirteen years and is a senior staff technical content engineer at Cockroach Labs. He was the lead for Spring Data JPA and Spring Web Services. He wrote Packt's best-selling title, Learning Spring Boot 2.0 2nd Edition, and its 3rd Edition follow-up along many others.

March 25, 2015

Tonight’s writing prompt was different. Describe/explain the internet to a person from the early 1900s. Better yet, TV or your cell/smart phone. Some pointers were that this was was a time frame where people had the early telephone, electric lights, and very simple cars. Here’s what I crafted:


Do you know how you can pick up the phone and use the operator to ring up someone? Imagine opening a book and ringing up your favorite book. You know you can hop in your automobile and drive to your destination of choice? Imagine opening a blank newspaper and then picking which one you want to read. You know how you can turn on lights at night, and read many more hours than your grandfather could with a simple candle? Imagine people around the world writing new newspapers, books, and articles late into the night. And you can read them as they come out. You don’t need to wate for tomorrow’s edition of the paper. The moment they publish something, it’s available in your blank book. It’s available in your blank paper. And over time, you can actually follow your favorite authors. Perhaps you started reading Jules Verne. But then Mark Twain starts writing. You don’t have to buy a new book. You can simply ask for Mark Twain’s latest novel and its available. Or perhaps Mark Twain decides to write a weekly letter.


I have to admit, my wife’s writing was hilarious and way better than mine. But it was fun, because we each took a turn and read a scene from our manuscripts.


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