In the 80s and 90s, we had the most awesome search engine(s) ever – a filing clerk and a brain.

When I needed a file, I would spend 30 seconds filling out a pink form with the approximate name of the file, I would drop it in our filing clerk’s “in” box, go to lunch, and arrive back from lunch to find the file on my desk.  If anything was critical, I’d photocopy it and put it in my binder on my desk.  Because all of this had been manual, it was ingrained in my memory and I could always find that document in my binder with just a few seconds of thumbing through papers.

I never had to wait for the binder to reboot.  I never was told I couldn’t access my binder.  And the filing clerk — because she was great at her job — never ever came back with irrelevant files.  And combing through a paperfile wasn’t an unpleasant process – in fact, I’d see a lot of interesting things I didn’t expect in various files.  

And because no one had ever heard of the word “on demand,” the time it took to find this file didn’t feel frustrating or unnatural.  And I didn’t have people expecting me to reply to their memo or phone message in 2 minutes.

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In the 80s and 90s, we had the most awesome search engine(s) ever – a filing clerk and a brain.

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