How I first fell in love with information before I knew what the Internet was

I always asked a lot of questions.

I can remember annoying even my patient parents by always asking ‘why,’ to follow any experience or discussion. Sometimes I would ask ‘why’ to be a brat, but most often I found my mind trying to play out whatever circumstances would follow and discovered that I rarely knew what was next.

So I was likely curious by nature. Still, there was a second step in my developing a love for learning.

In my sophomore year of high school, I sat next to a networked printer in my math class. That printer was apparently the default printing choice for a variety of nearby classes. As you might expect, people would regularly print to that printer, not know where it is and then try again. The result was a regular stream of random class essays, research papers, academic articles and, yes, people’s personal poems.

Every morning, I would come into class, take a stack of these random sheets of paper and consume them, mostly ignoring the math class that I mostly struggled to follow. Theories and biographies and articles, without any order — it was Wikipedia before Wikipedia existed. I found myself checking any school printers or nearby recycling bin, and I almost always found something new and quick to learn — the library was always a resource.

I’ve also always hated waste. I’m not eco-friendly, necessarily, I just believe waste is borderline unethical, so I would take these pages and pages of documents that would be otherwise thrown out, and I kept them in a growing collection of boxes. In recent years, with Philadelphia’s single stream recycling, I’ve found a way to dispose more responsibly of these hundreds and hundreds of pages, and with the Internet, I have a new way of finding access to new information and insight, and as a journalist, I have new reason to do so.

And my obsession with learning new and interesting things and ways of looking at the world has only expanded. Thank you.

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