If The Internet Disappeared: Using Human Search Engines

If The Internet Disappeared: Using Human Search Engines
The following is the seventh entry we've published from a journal found in a dumpster in Bayside, New York. Little is known about its origin, but judging from the title "Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, 2013," it comes from the future. Oh, and Gladstone wrote it. We do know that. But the Gladstone we know or future Gladstone? It's almost impossible to say. Nevertheless, it is reprinted here as a cautionary tale ...


Day 49: RETURN TO OZ It didn't seem possible that in a world devoid of Facebook, Twitter, and people-finding apps like foursquare, I had somehow managed to locate a 5'5" Australian girl among the four million people still living in New York City. Even stranger, I hadn't recognized her. Oz ran from her tiny glass room, heels clacking in the hallway, and when she burst through my door, kissing and holding me tight, I couldn't help but think of Romaya and the way we loved each other when we were as young as Oz. "For fucks, sake, Gladstone," she said, pulling back suddenly. "Why do you reek of Drakkar Noir?" Her hair was longer now and flowed in California redwood colors without the distraction of store-bought fluorescents. Sexy librarian glasses had taken the place of disposable contacts. And her accent had all but dissolved into a softer dialect of unknown origin. Oz saw the confusion on my face. "What is it?" she asked. "Have you found Tobey? The Internet?" I just stared, unsure of what I was trying to remember. "Maybe we should just get you home, Gladstone. You don't look right, and you smell like a New Jersey mall."


Oz filled my head with whispered stories while I slept. Stories about the government releasing her after a brief interrogation; about losing her purse and keys in the arrest; and about how she did visit the hotel in the first three days, but no one answered the door or took her calls. She moved on looking for work and shelter. I was too tired to respond to any of it. Or maybe it was just a feeling of contentment I didn't want to disturb with words. In the morning, I woke with Oz straddling my back. "Wake up, old man," she said. "Time to find the Internet." I rolled over beneath her and placed a hand on each thigh. "First we have to get Tobey. It would be too sad to find it without him." "There's something I want to do even before that," she said and leaned over to put her glasses on the nightstand. The soft of her T-Shirt caught my stubble. "What's that? Discuss your Daddy issues?" "I don't have Daddy issues." I slid my hands further up Oz's thighs until she could no longer pretend to be cool. "In my experience," I said. "You either have Daddy issues or a cock."
Day 50: CRAIGSLIST We set out in search of Tobey, and Oz led the way. In our two weeks apart she had learned all about the latest non-technological advances in our Internet-less world. Much like pornography, knowledge had become too easily obtained and we couldn't go without. We needed our answers to flow more freely than our desire to look for them, and although the Net was gone, other things rose to take its place. Oz told me that the Library of Congress had hired hundreds of new librarians simply for the purpose of researching and responding to queries. For one dollar, you could fax a question in and, using the resources of America's largest library, the answer would be tracked down and faxed back to you within 24 hours. Some of the requested information was more important than others.

Question: kid Who on played Silver the Spoons? Answer: bad Jason Z Bateman 1ARS O2 PROULY DISPLAYING HER ANSWERED ERY FROM THE LIBRARY OF LONGRESS.

But if you were fortunate enough to live in New York City - still the greatest city in the world even if people were leaving in droves and the threat of terrorist attacks increased daily - you had an even more impressive alternative for acquiring information. You could ask Jeeves. His real name was Daniel McCall, but apparently this fifty-year-old psychic and former Columbia University librarian now only answered to "Jeeves." Every day from noon to four he would roll his tiny stack table, folding chair, and trunk containing reference materials to the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park and field questions. But Jeeves's greatest resource was his photographic memory filled with limitless details of historical and trivial import. He charged five dollars a question. If Jeeves could answer you, he kept the money. If he could provide only related information, he gave you back two dollars. And if your query returned no results, your money was returned. Supposedly that had never happened. "Wow, that's pretty amazing," I said. "How'd you hear about this?" "Christ, Gladstone. Everyone's heard about it. Have you been doing anything for the last two weeks besides wanking in Times Square?" I took a nip from my flask. "Does drinking count?" "Fucking lush. Come on, I wanna get to craigslist before it gets too crowded." "Craigslist? What happened to Jeeves?" Oz looked at me with disgust. "Jeeves is where histrionic, thirty-year-old Sheilas go to find out if their boyfriends are ever gonna propose." I followed Oz to the 4, 5, 6 subway stop by Union Square. What used to be an out of place promenade for slackers and artists to smoke, sketch, and skateboard had been transformed. Now it was an out of place promenade for slackers to smoke and sketch and tack index cards to a huge cheap plywood wall. Much like the real craigslist, the board had been separated into sections: jobs, items for sale, sexual seekers.


"This is how I found a roommate when I couldn't get back into the hotel," Oz said. "Yeah, but how will this help us find, Tobey? What kind of post are we looking for? Single White Male seeks 80s references and tits?" "I dunno, but it couldn't hurt to start looking." continued on page 2...
I searched the cards for close to an hour without any leads. Someone had posted a card reading "highly intelligent 20-something seeks at-home job requiring no work. Hours must be flexible," but that could have been anyone. For the most part the wall was flooded with ads for antiquated gaming systems. The loss of online gaming and even flash distractions had left people jonesing for some seated, hand/eye coordinated entertainment. There was a Vectrex from '84 on sale for $900, and even a bunch of games relying on ball, hole, and spring technology were selling for more than I'd ever imagine. Just before my frustration reached its peak, I felt Oz slip her arms around me from behind and rest her head against my shoulder like my own guardian angel of affection. "Baby still wants to ask Jeeves, doesn't he?" she said.
Day 50: ASK JEEVES Oz and I took a long slow walk to Central Park, pretending a life was possible supported only by my disability payments and her rack-based ability to earn extra cash on an as-needed basis. It was the kind of fragile new infatuation that let simple answers carry more weight than they deserved because further exploration would send the whole thing tumbling down. "Do you think you'll ever go back to work?" she asked. "I'd prefer not to." "What's your real name?" I asked. "Isn't it sexier not knowing?" It was 2 pm by the time we reached the Park and the line to Jeeves was already fifty people deep. A bunch of Internet zombies were milling about in their circles, but most of them gave Jeeves a wide berth for fear of accidentally obtaining some actual knowledge. He sat there with his balding pony tail and poorly defined goatee, dispensing information from a folding chair. Sometimes he consulted his books - the OED or an encyclopedia. Sometimes he would grab the person's hand to answer the more personal, psychic-based questions. But usually he would just roll his eyes in disgust and dispense answers one by one while collecting his money. Q: "What's the average yearly rainfall in the Amazon rain forest?" A: "Six feet, seven inches." Q: "Will I ever find a job I don't hate?" A: "No. " Q: "Is there a God?" A: "I don't know if a God exists, but anyone who claims to be certain of His absence probably lacks humility more than faith." Jeeves gave the God guy back two of his five dollars on that one and whistled "Onward Christian Soldiers" as he placed the remaining three in his lockbox.


A skinny sixteen-year-old boy came up next, dropping five singles on the table. "Where's the Internet?" he asked. Jeeves's arrogance gave way to irritation. "I get that question every single day. I don't know." "But you know everything. How can you not know?" "Well, I don't, OK?" he said, pulling down on the rising edges of his Dark Side of the Moon T-Shirt. The boy reached to take back his five dollars, and Jeeves stopped him. "Only take two," he said. "Why?" the boy asked. "You haven't told me anything?" "I don't know where the Internet is, but there is someone who does." Jeeves stood and held up his hands as if absorbing psychic visions through his palms. "I can feel it. And I have seen him. In my mind. There will be. . . for lack of a better phrase. . . an Internet messiah. He will come. And he will return the Net to us." Jeeves sat down, spent from his pronouncement. A buzz worked its way through the crowd. A couple of YouTube zombies were even distracted enough to let their trapped cat run off to freedom. For a moment, it seemed all of Central Park was quiet. "You're not just saying that so you can keep three of my dollars are you? "Next!" Jeeves screamed, and within a moment, he was back to spewing answers. "Hammerin' Hank Greenberg; The Articles of Confederation; leave it alone or it will get infected; no, he will never marry you; Jason Bateman. . ." We continued advancing as Jeeves dispatched about thirty people one by one until only a few stood between us. From our new place in line we could now only hear the questions. "OK, Jeeves," someone said, "Question. Who would give better head: 1977 Linda Carter or 2001 Angelina Jolie?" "Are they dressed as Wonder Woman and Lara Craft, respectively?" "Of course!" "Well," Jeeves said. "It's a cliche, but I have to go with Angelina Jolie." "Wrong! The answer is Demi Moore as GI Jane, but keep the money, Mr. Know It All." Somehow, it had happened again. I didn't need the crowd to clear to know I'd found Tobey. And not just because of his Demi Moore infatuation, but because this was someone who managed to take pride in stumping an educated psychic with a completely subjective and arbitrary question. Still, I can't tell you how happy I was to see the goofy bastard. We screamed and hugged and punched each other the way guys do because we're retarded. "Fuck, am I happy to see you," he said. "I just spent my last five dollars." "You spent your last five dollars to ask Jeeves a blowjob question?" "I know," Tobey said. "Now, I can't get that Jaguar." I was about to respond, but I suddenly felt consumed by an overwhelmingly antsy and negative energy. I turned to the woman behind me who was about thirty years old and filled with venom. "Are you going to go?" she asked. "Some of us have important questions about our boyfriends." "Save your money," Oz said. "With an attitude like that I'm sure you turned him gay long ago." The line ahead of us had cleared , and Jeeves was tapping his fleshy fingers, waiting for me. "Oh, I'm sorry," I said. "My question got answered already." Jeeves stood up and pointed, but words would not come. "Look, no offense. I was just looking for this jackass here, and I found him so. . ." "It's you!" Jeeves stammered. "I'm not sure-" "You're here." The crowd that already hung on Jeeves's every word was now listening more closely than ever. They began to crowd the table. "It's him!" he screamed. "It's the Internet Messiah!" To be continued. . .HERE.
Missed the prior installments of Notes from the Internet Apocalypse? Start here. You can also keep up with the latest Internet Apocalypse news on Facebook. And/or follow Gladstone on Twitter. And then there's his site.

To see what the world would do if the Internet disappeared, check out 8 Online Fads You Didn't Know Were Invented Decades Ago. Or get some more G-Stone with 3 Reasons the Ground Zero Mosque Debate Makes No Sense.

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