Johnson Smith Company. This comic book-like publication was special. It was full of essentials for American boys: X-Ray glasses, spy message decoders, pocket telescopes, and rubber dog poop.
You had to send in a request for the catalog from a magazine ad. I would wait for its arrival in the mail, race with it to my room, and consider thoughtfully how to best allocate the metal coins stored inside my piggy bank. The next step was to fill out the order form, send it in the mail with payment taped securely to cardboard, and wait.
Back when I was a kid, we did a lot of waiting.
We were okay with delays between events. Similar to standing in line at the county fair for a rollercoaster ride, the wait seemed to add something special. With delay came anticipation, enhancing the actual event when it finally took place.
So nobody thought it strange to drop something in the mailbox and wait weeks for it to make a very slow journey.
Today, the concept of requesting a paper catalog, waiting for it to arrive in the mail, responding with a paper order form, and then waiting patiently for the results seems foreign, even ridiculous.
NBC's handling of the Olympics 2012 shows that today's culture does not appreciate delays, not even if it is only for a few hours. We want things immediately.
Global technology ties us to events happening right now. We need to be involved and get immediate feedback. Waiting is not something we know how to do any more.
Paper mail was replaced by telephones and e-mail. Telephone calls and e-mails were replaced by short text messages. We now lack patience for a delay between communicating to a person and getting a response.
Paper catalogs, magazines, and newspapers will always arrive too late. The content cannot be fresh if somebody took the time to print it, carry it to a truck, and ship it to us.
Even website content is too slow. An example of this is CNN's 2011 acquisition of the online personalized magazine called Zite.
Unless there is a world calamity, I am not going to tune into CNN on the television. I stopped going to the CNN website when it started cranking out garbage about celebrities.
But Zite is different and I use it throughout the day. The people who created the content delivered to me don't work for the network. CNN employees do not even pick the content.
With Zite, the reader chooses content suitable to his or her liking, which was created by other connected individuals who have decided to create and share information. CNN had to acknowledge the trend to fast, crowdsourced information.
Squeezing out the delay between events is often a good thing. I know I don't like to wait for things anymore.
Which reminds me.
If anybody from Lik-m-aid is reading this, you still owe me that miniature spy camera. Check to see who received my quarter in the mail back around 1970.