History preserved: a gift of the Web

I sit with my laptop every day, amazed at this thing we’ve created called “the Web.” How did humankind survive without it? Future generations will take its connectivity for granted, and future wars will be fought here. It is pure artificial intelligence and beyond, because it’s learning every time we add something or associate one document with another.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve learned something else about the Web: it’s preserving history on many, many levels, including my own, and that has ramifications, both good and bad, for tomorrow.

From time-to-time, old memories will slip into my head, and I’ll head to the Web to see what I can see. Over the past couple of days, I’ve found some things I thought were long lost: evidence of my days as a surfer on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. That’s right, Lake Michigan.

It was the summer of 1964. The Beatles had just invaded America and the most popular U.S. band was The Beach Boys. Vietnam was escalating, and it was a crazy time. I had hooked up with a couple of guys in Grand Haven, Michigan, and one of them, Terry Laug, had surfboards in his garage.

In searching for Terry a couple of days ago, I found a treasure trove of information about an organization I helped form, the Great Lakes Surfing Association, GLSA. Sandhillcity.com contained photos, newspaper articles, and the fundamental history of the organization.

Here’s Terry’s GTO. That’s my board on the right.

GTO

This picture is from when a group of us went to the Upper Peninsula and drove the entire coast of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in search of waves. It was a real “surfin’ safari.” That’s my 1959 Volvo in front. I’m the guy with his left hand on his hip. It’s an old newspaper photo from the Grand Rapids Press, so the quality sucks, but I remember that whole trip very well.

surfingsafari

GLSA logo

GLSA logo

I designed the logo for the group and apparently functioned as a spokesperson (who knew?), per this quote in the July 18, 1965 edition of the Grand Rapids Press “Wonderland Magazine:”

Most of the Great Lakes group uses a square back tail board instead of a pointed one to get the biggest ride from the smaller Lake Michigan waves, explains Terry Heaton, spokesman for the group.

“We don’t need those 20-footers like they have in California to have fun,” he pointed out.  “We’re happy with six-inch ones.  That’s all that is really needed to get a push.”

As happy as this makes me to find all this old material that I had thought lost, it gives me pause as I think about tomorrow, for all of our deeds — whether good or bad — have the chance of being preserved for all time on this glorious creation of ours, the World Wide Web.  And while I find that thought somewhat disconcerting (do we really want EVERYTHING preserved?), it may, over time, result in a odd form of governor for our culture. The West has lost its internal governor, so perhaps an external one like this is inevitable. Of course, the question then becomes, who controls the governor?

Those will be thoughts and issues for another generation. As for me and mine, I’m just enjoying being a part of the first generation whose early memories are being preserved. Our history — my history — is being preserved right before my eyes, and I am thankful and amazed.

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