You’ll Find Me Under “V”
Though he now lives in the computer age and loves the world of pixels and the information superhighway, Pausch was raised in a very different world. In 1960 when he was born, all the great knowledge was recorded on paper. In his family, the World Book Encyclopedia was the place to find nearly anything worth knowing. He does not claim to have read the entire set of encyclopedias, but he read a lot and was fascinated by who was selected and how they were chosen to write about such a diverse collection of subjects.
His parents were frugal, but they happily purchased the World Book (which was not cheap) to give the gift of knowledge to their children. Each year the annual book arrived—a volume of current events, breakthroughs, and changes from that year. Each annual supplement came with stickers that needed to be placed on the original entries, and that was Pausch’s job. It was his responsibility to keep the knowledge current for anyone who used those encyclopedias in the future.
It became a life goal for Pausch to become a contributing editor to World Book. This is more difficult than just contacting the World Book home office in Chicago and offering to write an article. World Book had to find him, and several years ago he got the call. He was not the most authoritative expert in the field of virtual reality, but he was competent enough to know the subject well, and he was likely to have the time to write for them.
He wanted to tell them he had been waiting almost his entire life for this call, but he settled on a simple “yes!” He wrote the article and submitted a photo of one of his students, Caitlin Kelleher, wearing a virtual reality headset. No one ever edited his article; he assumes that is how World Book works: pick a trusted expert and trust that what he writes will be accurate and that he will not abuse the privilege.
Pausch does not own the latest set of World Book encyclopedias. In truth, now that he has seen how little quality control there is for a real encyclopedia, he believes Wikipedia is a perfectly acceptable source of information. However, when he is in a library with his kids, he occasionally feels compelled to look under “V” (for “Virtual Reality”) to find his article and let them see what their dad wrote. He finally “made it.”