Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

One day, about 30 years ago, a young scientist comes to my Princeton University office (330 Jadwin) – coat tails flying because he has to catch a cab to the airport but wants to tell me something before leaving the building. He asks if I want to learn HTML. “H.  T.  M.  L.? Hmm, what is that, and why would I want to learn it”, I ask. He quickly rattles off something about linking text and bending over my keyboard quickly shows me some code, then rushes out with, ‘it’s really easy, just study the code and you’ll see what it does’. Then he’s gone and on his way back to CERN, leaving me bewildered, wondering what just happened. A few minutes later I begin to unravel what he tried to tell me, and that’s it for me: my brain is permanently rewired to think in terms of seeing words or strings of words as gateways to more information.

Wow, where do I begin to tell you about Usenet, Gopher, Veronica and Jughead, Lynx, and all those others of yesteryear that passed before our favorite browser of today. I can only tell you the way I remember it. You might remember and know things differently and I will gladly stand corrected. To be continued .  .  .

[A bit of introspection here: A few short years after the internet crawled out of strictly academia into the public domain, the world has never been the same; somehow though, in spite of my close ties to those super exciting early beginnings, the fond memories, and my fondness of organizing information into easily digestible chunks, I sometimes catch myself projecting into the future, and I reminisce about a gentler, less connected world, and I wonder. . . where is the line between ‘we can’ and, ‘but should we’].

You’re busy with work, kids, maybe you have a parent or grandparent who needs you help, maybe a day doesn’t have enough hours for all the things you have to accomplish. . . but it really does. You’ve heard this before; even in the airplane they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help others because if you pass out you won’t be of use to anyone. So take care of you first. Steel an hour from the day for yourself to be completely “selfish” (read prepping yourself for helping those who need you) and just . . . PLAY!