Explaining the Kindle to Dickens

Recently, Rachel Walsh, an illustration student at the Cardiff School of Art and Design, was given the following project:

“Explain something modern/internet based to someone who lived and died before 1900.”

Cardiff chose the Kindle and to explain it to Charles Dickens. She took forty books Dickens either wrote, were among his noted favorites, and a few books of her own selection she thought he would enjoy. Then she painstakingly created miniatures of each work, rendering their covers in minute detail, carved small portals into a regular sized book and placed each tiny tome in the spaces. That way, she could “show” Dickens how an eReader stores dozens (in reality, hundreds) of books in a single slim volume.

What else might we explain about our modern/connected world to someone who died before the turn of the twentieth century?

Here are some suggestions from loyal eNotes Official Blog readers:

Explaining “Farmville” to John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed)

How do you explain the “thrills” of virtual farming to the man who single-handedly, and largely on foot, populated the American Midwest with apple trees?

Explaining “Wikipedia” to Noah Webster

I wonder how Webster, called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” would feel about this equal-access encyclopedia. Maybe he’d be fine with it, but I have my doubts…


Explaining “Match.com” to Jane Austen

Somehow I do not think Ms. Austen would be amused.

Explaining “Google Earth” to Christopher Columbus

Native Americans probably wish this had been around….

Explaining Modern Crime Scene Forensics to Sherlock Holmes

(Okay, we know Holmes is a fictional character, but you get the idea….)

How about you?  We’d love to hear what sorts of modern marvels you might try to explain to a person living before 1900. What would your pairing be?