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“Amazon has never been just a river in South America”

August 26, 2011
"This sandstone is made of quite well rounded grains of quartz, cemented together by calcium carbonate. Cambrian, NW Scotland. Field of view 3.5 mm, polarising filters."

Sandstone in thin section, one of the topics of my Sedimentary Petrology class

It was early 1997 in an 8:30am Sedimentary Petrology course at St. Lawrence University.  With only 7 students in the class, we often got side tracked at the beginning and I distinctly remember my professor talking about some books he had just ordered on “Amazon.com”.

As a lover of bookstores I felt a bit underwhelmed by the offerings in New York’s North Country and my ears perked up.  An online bookstore?  They have everything?  I was very excited.

After class I went to the basement computer lab and fired up Netscape to check it out.  What wonders to behold!  With a clean design and access to all the books I could think of, I was in love.

Our entering first year students never had the moment of discovery for Amazon.com.  As the 2015 Beloit College Mindset List indicates:

12. Amazon has never been just a river in South America.

For these students born in 1993, the internet was ubiquitous by the time they were old enough to be aware of their surroundings.

And for the first time, I’m feeling a little old after reading the list.

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