Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Never Cross the Data Stream 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe other day I helped my colleague teach a class for the public on our magazines and newspapers databases. A perky woman sitting in the back row raised her hand. She was wearing a brightly colored hat slightly askew a la Blossom.

“Hi! Do you have a question?”

“Yes, I sure do! How do you categorize the data stream?”

“Excuse me? The data stream? What do you mean?” She walked over to the woman’s computer.

The woman pointed at her browser’s address bar.“Right here! All of these numbers and letters streaming together. How do you take each piece apart to tell where it is? Does each piece lead to a separate location? My friend told me all about the data stream, but I didn’t understand at the time. Explain it to me.”

“Do you mean the URL? The website address? It changes each time we follow a link to reflect the new address.”

She began to get frustrated. “Nooo! The data stream! What does each piece mean?”

Feeling the schizophrenia coming off the woman in waves, my colleague replied, “Ma’am, maybe we can talk after class. But right now we need to concentrate on this news database.”

A few minutes passed, and the woman raised her hand again.

My colleague, wincing a little, “Yes?”

“I have a question about the data stream, and the letters and the numbers and what they mean. How do you categorize it?”

“Ma’am! After class.”

"But -"

"After class!"

About five minutes later, my colleague asked if there were any questions. The woman’s hand shot up. My colleague asked, “Is this question about the data stream? Because if it is, you can wait until after class.”

The woman slowly lowered her hand.

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