Let’s donate our phone books to a museum

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Earlier this month within the span of 24 hours, I heard two things that when taken together, create a snapshot of the changing behaviors in the way we search for information.

First, I heard someone ask for a phone book so that she could look up a phone number.  I remember thinking at the time, “why don’t you just Google for that?” but went on about my business as my advice had not be requested.  It’s been so long since I used a phone book to look up a number, I honestly can’t remember the last time I held one in my hands or even saw one, for that matter.

Later I heard a report that AT&T Kentucky will end distribution of its White Pages directory to every customer in Jefferson and Oldham counties.  (The directory will be available upon request.)  I guess the number of people using the online White Pages directory, Google, or other online source finally tipped the scale and it no longer makes sense to print a directory that will sit in a drawer for a year or be thrown immediately in the recycling bin.  I can’t help but wonder how long it will take AT&T to stop publishing the White Pages completely.

The same report noted that AT&T will continue to publish and distribute the Yellow Pages directory, but really, how much longer will this even be necessary?  Some differences in search behavior are purely generational.  So when today’s youngsters grow to adulthood, will they even know what a phone book is, or used to be?


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