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January 28, 2010 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Another institution might be close to biting the digital dust: The high school/college yearbook. Some are looking at alternative business approaches. " Last spring was the first time since World War II that University of Virginia students did not publish their yearbook, "Corks and Curls." No one seemed to notice."
posted by Xurando (67 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I noticed the same thing at my college. We hadn't had a yearbook for a few years and nobody knew the difference. Facebook IS the yearbook.
posted by amethysts at 5:55 PM on January 28, 2010


How will students know to stay sweet and to never change?
posted by billysumday at 5:58 PM on January 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is sad. Yearbooks only gain their value years after you have ordered them. Teenagers are unlikely to have that level of foresight. I know I would not have.

"I noticed the same thing at my college. We hadn't had a yearbook for a few years and nobody knew the difference. Facebook IS the yearbook."

Fuck that notion into oblivion for all eternity.
posted by 517 at 6:00 PM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Our college yearbook was barely purchased by students in the early 90s, and no-one signed them...it was considered kind of a high-school thing to do.
posted by desuetude at 6:01 PM on January 28, 2010


Wait, COLLEGE yearbooks? These are small colleges, right?
posted by Eideteker at 6:01 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


We hadn't had a yearbook for a few years and nobody knew the difference. Facebook IS the yearbook.

You mean a resource that no one uses except to write nonsense on briefly and never come back to? Sounds about right.
posted by DU at 6:01 PM on January 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a former yearbook grunt, I can only sigh and say; well, to be honest, they were always kind of a ripoff. But since Facebook isn't a true archive, it will result in a loss, specifically, how will Kids of the Future be able to mock their parents' regrettable hair and clothing without them?

/still bitter about losing out to HS administration that squashed our awesome ideas for a theme and made us use a lame one.
posted by emjaybee at 6:03 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Waste of time, money, and trees in the first place. Good riddance.

(And if you ever teach at a high school and your boss pleasantly asks you to help advise the yearbook staff, run away as quickly as possible.)
posted by bardic at 6:04 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, COLLEGE yearbooks? These are small colleges, right?

I had one for my university graduating class at one of Canada's bigger engineering schools. of course, that was mumble years ago and the department is easily 2x bigger now.

But lots of schools have 'em for the graduating class.

As for high school yearbooks gaining value, well, maybe yours did that.
posted by GuyZero at 6:06 PM on January 28, 2010


Our college yearbook was barely purchased by students in the early 90s, and no-one signed them...

Oh, I almost forgot. One of the characters in Coupland's Microserfs was in my class. The chapters in the book are dated and you can calculate when she graduates and he says exactly what program she was in, so you can figure that she was in my fictionalized class.

So when I went to see him speak at the Authors' Festival one year I took it along as a lark and he totally got a charge out of it. So Douglas Coupland signed my yearbook on behalf of a fictional character who was in my class.
posted by GuyZero at 6:09 PM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was way ahead of the curve. Graduated high school in 2000, and in my personal notes section, I directed people with a link to my (at the time) geocities website so they could follow on my adventures into college. Exacerbating the dorkiness was my yearbook photo. For some reason, I thought a wife beater, socks, and sandals made me a stud. Not one to outgrow stupid trends, I used to pop my collar a few years ago too.

Where would we be without people like me to look back on and make fun of?
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 6:10 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And FINALLY. My kids' current elementary school has archive copies of the elementary school yearbook from the 70's. Not hardbound, but an elementary school yearbook nonetheless.
posted by GuyZero at 6:12 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


fixed link
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 6:12 PM on January 28, 2010


Christ, what an outfit.
posted by DU at 6:12 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"As for high school yearbooks gaining value, well, maybe yours did that."

I guess I should qualify that. I didn't enjoy highschool either. But my yearbook represents an artifact from my own life, of which I have very few. It's a physical manifestation of a group of blurred memories that may or may not have occurred. It gives those memories a weight that they otherwise would not have.

I can't remember the last time I looked at it. But to have some personal, discrete record compared to the ephemeral, public morass of Facebook is nauseating.
posted by 517 at 6:14 PM on January 28, 2010


O'Doyle Rules!
posted by gman at 6:15 PM on January 28, 2010


"I noticed the same thing at my college. We hadn't had a yearbook for a few years and nobody knew the difference. Facebook IS the yearbook."

Fuck that notion into oblivion for all eternity.
posted by 517 at 9:00 PM on January 28 [+] [!]
That notion will fuck itself into oblivion when the physical yearbooks outlast Facebook, within their lifetime.

Also—

Does it tickle when I write in your crack?
posted by Toekneesan at 6:18 PM on January 28, 2010


College... yearbook. Yeah, that's weird.

High school, though, absolutely. I agree with 517. Considered worthless at the time; less so over the years. I mean, not many alternative records of that existence, for what it was worth.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:21 PM on January 28, 2010


I don't understand yearbooks. A collection of photographs of people, probably 85% of which I never met. I already have photos of the people who were meaningful to me in high school and college.
posted by mpbx at 6:21 PM on January 28, 2010


have a great summer! hope to see you at some parties!
- mr. woods

posted by porn in the woods at 6:25 PM on January 28, 2010


For some reason, I thought a wife beater, socks, and sandals made me a stud.

What did you think the Spider-Man pose did for you?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:28 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's always fun to take a yearbook from 1967 and compare it to one from 1968.

Hairgasm.
posted by bardic at 6:29 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea whether my university (for undergrad) or grad schools even had yearbooks... it never even occurred to me that they might. I like having my high school ones though. I wasn't friends with anyone, but its an interesting record of the time.

The school where I teach (K-12) has a yearbook and its a big deal... but I love that our department head selected the most hilariously out of focus photo as our photo this year.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:36 PM on January 28, 2010


Attention any high school students reading this: The Balfour class ring sales dude is not to be trusted.

/tangent
posted by aerotive at 6:37 PM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


USAFA has a yearbook.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:39 PM on January 28, 2010


I think I've looked at my high school year book *maybe* ten times in 18 years. I'm glad to have it, but the internet does make it much easier to actually reconnect with a lot of people instead of just looking at a tiny photo of them.

I was an aspiring artist/designer in high school and joined the yearbook crew thinking it would be a way to get some experience in putting a print book together. The extent of my participation was to be handed a price sheet and asked to go beg local businesses to buy ads... I was a little sour on the whole yearbook thing after that.
posted by usonian at 6:39 PM on January 28, 2010


Fuck that notion into oblivion for all eternity. & You mean a resource that no one uses except to write nonsense on briefly and never come back to? Sounds about right.

I'm not exactly sure when either of you graduated high school or what relevance Facebook has had on your entire class, but these statements don't ring true in the least for those of us who still use it as a means to share more than just Farmville achievements and how dilated we are.

My experience might be different and your mileage may have varied, but I graduated ~6 years ago and was a staff member on the yearbook her senior year, goingon to compete in D.C. with my fellow classmates for both yearbook and newspaper (because I took it super seriously at the time). The amount of time that went into that piece of crap book and the actual importance it held to anyone once it finally published was not worth it for any of us. It was so entirely stressful that three quarters of the class were going to drop it at semester, but we were all sent letters and reprimanded by our advisers that if any of us dropped, we'd receive zero credit for the class and no recognition for the work that we had already done in the book.

Yearbooks weren't about archiving, they were another way the school got more funding by using us as free labor knowing we were passionate about what we did by scamming local businesses for advertising space and sending out layouts and stories to competition contests. Our peers didn't care about it as much as we did. Our class was comprised of students who wanted to be journalists, writers, photographers, designers, and other forms of production staff. It was a job, not an English credit.

No one wanted to be interviewed except for the same egotistical few, so many of our stories were fabricated or fluffed to make deadline. Those who came in just for the credit and notion that it would be a fun class ended up continuously taking pictures of their same five friends and quoting them with names that didn't even exist so the teacher wouldn't find out. Some people would come in after hours the night before or the morning we had to send a section to press to edit that picture back in that wasn't approved for xyz reason ; photos that were usually offensive or of the same attention whore. These aren't the same yearbooks you two may have received throughout your high school years.

The stance when I graduated was that it was a mostly embarrassing tribute that parents encouraged us to buy because some day... Yeah, that might be the case if you don't have the internet.

Now that I know that the football captain is a recovering alcoholic and his on-again-of-again ex of a cheerleader has three kids from three different guys by the age of 23 (and I get a nice little update about how deadbeat they all are), I don't have any interest in looking back at how things used to be... I think for a lot of us, it becomes another depressing reminder that everyone grows up and takes different paths. Paths that we watch every single second of every single day anymore. Not just every decade.

People do a fairly good job of uploading photos of themselves throughout the years on Facebook, because sure, that kind of thing is still nostalgic and hilarious. There are Tumblr after Tumblrs dedicated solely to our ridiculous school photography trends.

Things are just different now, and the good comes with the bad. It's just as easy to add horns and goatees in Photoshop, plus it doesn't ruin the originals and you don't turn the page just to realize the ink totally went through your best friend's freshman fivehead.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:42 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And it's more than just Facebook, it's the digital manifestation of it all. Facebook might not last, Flickr might not last, but I'll be darned if there still aren't Betty Busy-Bodies from each class that squeel at the chance to put together some sort of half-assed class website where those pictures end up regardless of if you wanted them there or not, thanks to some jackass' hard drive.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:45 PM on January 28, 2010


2 cool 2 B supplanted by an evolving technological landscape.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:55 PM on January 28, 2010


Sorry to be all get off my lawn, but things look a lot different from 48 than they do from 23. I didn't graduate with my class, but they are still my cohort and I wish I had a copy of my high school yearbook. My college yearbook sits on a shelf, but I have it and can look at it once a year or so.
posted by fixedgear at 7:03 PM on January 28, 2010


I remember one day the school newspaper/yearbook advisor coming to class one day with an envelope full of postage-stamp sized photos, thousands of them, of a member of the senior class. His photo in the yearbook was mis-printed, which meant that I and everyone else in the class had to rush to the school auditorium with that envelope, and apply those stickers to every yearbook ordered that year. And never speak of it again.

Ace, if you're reading this, we're sorry. So very sorry.
posted by hellojed at 7:04 PM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never bought Corks & Curls when I was an undergrad at UVA in the late 90s. Really, who wants a goddamn book full of pictures of three thousand people you don't really know?
posted by killdevil at 7:08 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think yearbooks had a much greater value in the era before digital cameras. They helped defray the costs of taking photographs. It probably seems strange to people who have grown up in the last decade, but in the not-so-distant past, photographs were a much more scarce commodity.

People didn't simply carry around cameras with them as they do now, partly because no one had cell phones, but also because the opportunity cost of taking a picture was relatively high. You had to buy film, own a decent camera, have it with you, decide take a picture, wait to finish the roll, then pay to have it developed, all hoping it turned out OK, which in many instances it didn't.

Now, you simply take pictures of whatever you want, it doesn't cost anything, and you know if turns out or not instantly. In the pre-digital age, taking a picture was required an investment of time, effort, preparation, and financial expenditure that many people simply weren't willing or able to bear. The yearbook would essentially socialize this cost and fill in the relatively large gaps in the photographic libraries of students.

Recently, I've been working on digitizing my old analog pictures, and I have perhaps three dozen pictures taken during high school, all of fairly low quality. Then I look at the many thousands of pictures I've taken since I bought my first digital camera in 2002, and realize how much the value of a simple photograph has changed.
posted by TBAcceptor at 7:09 PM on January 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Fixedgear, I still don't agree. Like TBA noted, between cell phones and digital cameras, we all created our own memories. We didn't need a $70 book (filled with $200 full-page ads dedicated to someone's ~precious little girl~ or their ~sports hero~) and a $30 page-thick supplement to help us remember what only mattered to the 20 people who were staff.
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:15 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The stance when I graduated was that it was a mostly embarrassing tribute that parents encouraged us to buy because

Wait. Buy? Buy???

I think I've looked at my high school year book *maybe* ten times in 18 years. I'm glad to have it, but the internet does make it much easier to actually reconnect with a lot of people instead of just looking at a tiny photo of them.

Gah. That's why Facebook is a terrible yearbook replacement. You don't actually want to be in touch with most of these people. And being in continual touch with people you have almost nothing to say to ruins the otherwise rather pleasant chance encounter you'd have had with them on the street when you're in your home town for Christmas, the three minutes to spare exactly how much catching up the relationship is worth.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:31 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


We didn't need a $70 book

WTF?!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:31 PM on January 28, 2010


Exactly. They're a scam. They want you to buy their plastic cover protectors and additional autograph pages.. it's not about memories anymore, it's about money.
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:36 PM on January 28, 2010


My high school year book is how I know who all these people on my facebook are.
posted by Eideteker at 7:38 PM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I already have photos of the people who were meaningful to me in high school and college.

Might make a difference. I have almost no photos from either HS or college, no one I knew carried a camera and it was long before phones had cameras (I was the first person I knew to even own a cellphone, and that was senior year of college). So other than a few formal occasions and yearbooks, no pictures of anyone from back then.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:48 PM on January 28, 2010


(well, first person I knew who wasnt using them... *ahem*... professionally)
posted by wildcrdj at 7:49 PM on January 28, 2010


We had a much better business model when I was Yearbook editor. The school simply required that every student purchase a Yearbook as part of their annual activity fees. Families could choose to opt out of receiving multiple books if they had more than one student in the school, but other than that, everyone got one. Made everything so much simpler, because I knew by the second week of classes precisely what my budget and print run would be.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:51 PM on January 28, 2010


In the pre-digital age, taking a picture was required an investment of time, effort, preparation, and financial expenditure that many people simply weren't willing or able to bear.

This. And when you took pictures, it was of the people you're probably in touch with now, or would like to be. The value of the yearbook is in all the people you weren't that close to, and need a gentle reminder that they existed at all. That doesn't mean it doesn't conjure funny stories you'd forgotten, or hey, not so funny stories. But I can definitely see with a digital cam snapping photos of whomever. I mean, why not?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:56 PM on January 28, 2010


People didn't simply carry around cameras with them as they do now, partly because no one had cell phones, but also because the opportunity cost of taking a picture was relatively high. You had to buy film, own a decent camera, have it with you, decide take a picture, wait to finish the roll, then pay to have it developed, all hoping it turned out OK, which in many instances it didn't.

Of course we had cheap cameras...even as a kid in the late-70s I had an Pocket Instamatic-type 110 camera, and there was a Fotomat hut in the parking lot of nearly every grocery store. It was a lot less expensive and more convenient to get film developed.

Sure, there was always someone's dad who was the Photography Buff with the Big Fancy Manual Camera, but at least in working-class and middle-class suburbia, all households had some kind of camera, at least a cheap one. Waiting to see if pictures came out was just part of the deal, it wasn't a burden. (Because we didn't have any way to see photos before they were printed.)

Most people didn't pull out their cameras to document every mundane moment of their lives, but any sort of an event has a corresponding shoebox full of fading photos in the closet.
posted by desuetude at 7:59 PM on January 28, 2010


"...but I graduated ~6 years ago and...The amount of time that went into that piece of crap book..."

I think that it is a matter of time that may give you perspective on it. On the other hand, you may always regret having it.

Facebook isn't yours. You don't own it or control it. It could all fall away tomorrow leaving you with nothing. The yearbook that you have is yours. You possess it in a manner that prevents someone from regulating your access to it.

Soon, someone, somewhere, will be renting you the memories of your childhood for $19.95 a month.
posted by 517 at 8:13 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't actually want to be in touch with most of these people. And being in continual touch with people you have almost nothing to say to ruins the otherwise rather pleasant chance encounter you'd have had with them on the street when you're in your home town for Christmas.

I am the exact opposite. I hate the awkward catch-ups in the street. Absolutely detest them... to the point of avoiding them. EYES DOWN *SHIT! I HOPE THEY DIDN'T SEE ME*

I have some close friends from university I haven't seen in years, but shoot them 6 or so emails a year and vice versa and it's great. I find girls - especially ex girlfriends - are harder to keep in touch with in person. They tend to settle down [I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll] and become homebodies and then there's the JEALOUS HUSBAND to deal with!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:08 PM on January 28, 2010


I never bought Corks & Curls when I was an undergrad at UVA in the late 90s. Really, who wants a goddamn book full of pictures of three thousand people you don't really know?

I got my first and fourth year editions, even though I didn't actually appear in the last one and neither did a lot of people I know (and I hardly knew anybody since I was in architecture school). But I was an out-of-state student from across the country, so it was helpful to have visual aids when trying to describe what the place was like. I never look at the things myself.
posted by LionIndex at 9:28 PM on January 28, 2010


I am the exact opposite. I hate the awkward catch-ups in the street. Absolutely detest them... to the point of avoiding them. EYES DOWN *SHIT! I HOPE THEY DIDN'T SEE ME*

I couldn't for the life of me tell you why, but these tend to be fascinating when they happen. They all seem to be dealing with something. It's like running into one of those alternate-universe Rikers who knows nothing but fighting the Borg. The last one fixed me with a thousand-mile stare and insisted that I acknowledge that any of us could go at any time. Any time, Durn.

Now that's entertainment.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:31 PM on January 28, 2010


Wowww this thread may as well have been called "Some colleges publish yearbooks" as far as I'm concerned because that is the key crazy fact I'm taking away from it. I had NO idea, literally it never even occurred to me that a college might publish a yearbook. Both my parents attended University of California schools and so did I and that would have been a damned thick book, I guess.

Anyway. Daaaang. I didn't buy my high school yearbook because it was very expensive (like $100), and I was in a magnet program which had its own, student-produced yearbook that was ad-free and sold for the cost of printing (not much above $20, if that). I have a couple of those mini yearbooks and they are pretty fun to look through, but since there were only about 250 of us in the program, I know most of the kids in the book. If I'd just gone to a regular Los Angeles high school with a few thousand kids, I don't know what purpose would have been served by my purchasing a yearbook, other than spending a whole lot of money on a whole lot of paper.
posted by crinklebat at 10:40 PM on January 28, 2010


Yeah, crinklebat, that's what I'm getting from the thread. I went to a U.C. too, and a yearbook would have been insane.

My favorite yearbook though is my elementary school one. I was in a class of 30 for about 5 years at a GATE program, and booooy were we dorks. I have my science olympiad medals somewhere...
posted by shinyshiny at 10:50 PM on January 28, 2010


Wow, I'm feeling really old right now....my high school yearbook cost $6 (1974-77). What's worse is that that was a lot of money for me/my family (Dad had to take early retirement, we were living on his pension, yada yada) back then, so I sold yearbook ads in order to earn a free copy. Our yearbooks were all in black and white (by the time my younger brothers graduated in the mid-1980s they used color photographs) and we didn't have the option/luxury of candid or casual shots (like posing with a football in hand). Ours were all strictly the typical studio portrait poses, with the guys in suits and ties (girls had more options, as long as the top was dressy and not too revealing - no tube tops or spagehtti straps). We got a lot of pages for that $6, though, as the class ahead of us was the largest graduating class in the school's history (almost 500 students) and our class was the second largest (463 students). Yay Baby Boomer Generation!
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:53 PM on January 28, 2010


I find girls - especially ex girlfriends - are harder to keep in touch with in person [...] and then there's the JEALOUS HUSBAND to deal with!

Not that I've got a stable of exes ready for a bit of horizontal polka every time their husbands' heads are turned, if that's what it sounded like. Hardly.

But you can't tell me it's difficult for males to catch up with their old female drinking buddy friends.

Plus, this is a response to a accidentally meet in the street vs. Facebook updates comment, so I'm getting a bit off track.

I couldn't for the life of me tell you why, but these tend to be fascinating when they happen. They all seem to be dealing with something. It's like running into one of those alternate-universe Rikers who knows nothing but fighting the Borg. The last one fixed me with a thousand-mile stare and insisted that I acknowledge that any of us could go at any time. Any time, Durn.

Now that's entertainment.


??? Again, in English this time.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:05 PM on January 28, 2010


I can't remember how much my junior high yearbook cost, but I think everyone got one. My high school yearbook was something like $20, and most people got one. I still have all four of mine. I didn't buy my college yearbook when I was actually in college - I don't know anyone who did. It wasn't as big of a deal to have one in college as it was in high school and junior high. I did buy copies of my college yearbooks on Ebay a few years back.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:06 PM on January 28, 2010


I went to UT Austin, and we had a yearbook. Only people who wanted to pose for it would actually get into it though, which is how you can have a yearbook for 50k+ students.
posted by kmz at 11:55 PM on January 28, 2010


You all probably know this, but Facebook was originally a printed book given out to Harvard freshmen before they even got to college. Only their own class. (This is circa 1970s - 80s). The idea was to look at everyone (picture, name, high school, hometown) and figure out who you wanted to hit on when you got to school.
posted by msalt at 11:59 PM on January 28, 2010


But you can't tell me it's difficult...

But you can't tell me it's NOT difficult, sorry

I don't normally use no double negatives.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:55 AM on January 29, 2010


I have one for college, at a fairly big school. It only has photos of seniors, and only seniors that got the yearbook since there are only about 1,000 (out of maybe 5,000 seniors). I've never really looked at it.

As far as taking snapshots, I wouldn't agree it was the herculean task described above, but the volumes were certainly lower. And I'd say most college students wouldn't even have a camera at school. I have some photos from college but I don't remember ever seeing anyone else with a camera.
posted by smackfu at 5:38 AM on January 29, 2010


My junior high yearbooks (circa 1974-76) were 100% ad supported and free. Apparently I'm the only sentimental person, or the only one who saved them. Folks were mildly freaking out when I posted scans to FB. The ads for businesses featured phone numbers like DEvonshire 4 -1234.
posted by fixedgear at 5:40 AM on January 29, 2010


I believe my college yearbook was free. I only picked it up because of the prank one of my friends had done. At the time they didn't check IDs when you came in to have your photo made, and one of my friends had an incredible memory for numbers so a bunch of us gave him the last four digits of our social security numbers and he went into the yearbook office 15-20 times and posed as various friends, always wearing the same outfit. So when the yearbook came out he was on pretty much every page of the freshman class, looking exactly the same (not everyone went to get their pics taken so it wasn't as big as all that...). So Wes, if you're out there, I only still have that yearbook because of you. I can't say I've looked at it in ten years, since I dropped out of that school after three years and haven't spoken to any of those classmates in over a decade.

I have my father's yearbooks from 69-72, and they're everything you'd hope a document produced by creative, stoned, college students with too much time on their hands. They're a glorious mess of layout, typography and cereal box philosophy.

On the other side of the coin, I have my grandfather's yearbook for military college in 1923, it's an amazing snapshot of what would later because a fairly large southern ag school which at the time was a very small regional military academy. Most interesting to my eyes is the extensive documentation of the freshman class hazing. A lot of boys, their first time off the farm, being subjected to a quite strange (and perverse) set of rituals. It's obviously a time when a lawsuit was just something a lawyer wore to court.

So maybe my kids and grandkids will get a kick out of knowing what life was really like in the early 90's, but it's just as likely they'll watch Reality Bites, Seinfeld or Slacker and think it's the reality instead.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:19 AM on January 29, 2010


My jr. high yearbooks are awesome, though. I was smart enough in jr. high and hs to keep my little class schedules you got at the first of the year and taped them inside my yearbooks, so now I can look back and remember that I had Ms. Smith in English 5th period, and then go find where she signed my book (she was awesome). I would not otherwise remember all the stupid little clubs I was in or the name of that girl sitting behind me on the bus every morning.

I do have two college yearbooks, because my college was actually smaller than my high school, so I do remember most of those kids.

In The Future, I would assume Josten's or whoever will simply sell you a CD of class photos plus access to password-protected Web page with cheesy music and Flash, no? And all your "class" stuff...your song, your catchphrase, whatever, all in some crappy template.

When my mom died, the funeral home gave us something like that. It's awful, frankly, but it came with the service.
posted by emjaybee at 7:23 AM on January 29, 2010


I have my yearbooks from high school, early 70s, and never pick one up let alone leaf through it. I found them populated chiefly by friends of the yearbook staff and as such of limited interest. However...

I arrived last summer at my 30th high school reunion with the yearbook in hand, and found the usual clique-y insiders communing inside, and the outsiders still hanging around outside. No surprises except that everyone looked much to old to me to be my actual classmates.

Then someone spotted my yearbook. "Look, a yearbook! Can I see that?" The cry went up. "Oh, is that OUR yearbook? Oooooh!" Then it dawned on me: none of these people had yearbooks, because they'd considered themselves too cool to have or keep one. Somehow 30 years later the thing took on a completely different lustre.

"Look, look at Joe's HAIR! Can you believe you wore those pants? Mr. Feingold looks so good, I can't believe he was ever that young! Do you remember when the front of the school looked like that? Oh, let me see that thing!!! I'd forgotten all about that picture!"

The old yearbook made the rounds that evening and returned to my bookshelf, and obscurity, immediately thereafter. For a few hours, however, its existence was actually justified.

This is what you don't know when you're in high school.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:05 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The yearbook PROCESS kept kids off the streets and out of trouble. And taught them valuable skills in graphic arts and production!
posted by mikelieman at 10:55 AM on January 29, 2010


Gah. That's why Facebook is a terrible yearbook replacement. You don't actually want to be in touch with most of these people.

Definitely agreed, which was why I went vague and said "the internet", not Facebook specifically. I don't understand why the people who made my life miserable in elementary school would want to be my friend on Facebook. Do they think I share their fond memories of all those wacky times they teased/bullied me?

Before Facebook existed, though, I did manage to track down a couple of friends who I did want to reconnect with thanks to Google and other online search tools... that's all I'm sayin'.
posted by usonian at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2010


Do they think I share their fond memories of all those wacky times they teased/bullied me?

Even worse: they don't even remember bullying you.
posted by smackfu at 12:31 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A yearbook presupposes I know who any of the other buggers are/were.

Of course this is sour grapes, because everything I knew about university/high school turned out to be wrong. My educators care about my brain and don't make lust filled advances. I don't have a pair of super awesome same sex friends. Heck I live on the same street as a frat house and they're quiet and well mannered. Fiction has lied to me!
posted by Phalene at 1:05 PM on January 29, 2010


You all probably know this, but Facebook was originally a printed book given out to Harvard freshmen before they even got to college.

The OED doesn't have it listed and I can't dig too much into the etymology of facebooks at work, but I think you're a little off there. I've always thought facebooks were printed book given out at any school that had that tradition, including Harvard (and because Harvard had that tradition, Zuckerberg borrowed the term from the printed book for his new digital creation).

I know at least one big UC (the biggest!) has a school that still prints facebooks (old school definition), as I worked there up until last year and they're still handed out to the 1Ls every year.

I also went to a college that gave students yearbooks (they may, in fact, have given them out for free to graduating seniors--I can't remember); yes, it's a small school (smaller than my high school) and yes it's private (so, awash in money) and somewhat traditional. I never bothered to get my picture taken and I don't see the value of it, but it exists.
posted by librarylis at 5:45 PM on January 29, 2010


>>You all probably know this, but Facebook was originally a printed book given out to Harvard freshmen before they even got to college.

>The OED doesn't have it listed and I can't dig too much into the etymology of facebooks at work, but I think you're a little off there. I've always thought facebooks were printed book given out at any school that had that tradition, including Harvard (and because Harvard had that tradition, Zuckerberg borrowed the term from the printed book for his new digital creation).


I'm not sure that what you and I say are incompatible. Wikipedia says the idea came from Exeter, where Zuckerberg went to high school, and the service was originally Harvard only. Maybe facebooks are common, on the east coast -- I heard of it out west.

I can verify that they were given to Harvard incoming freshmen (only) at the start of the year and that they were called "the facebook" at least as far back as 1979, five years before Zuckerberg was born and presumably at least 15 years before he got to Exeter.
posted by msalt at 7:47 PM on January 31, 2010


oops, I meant "I haven't heard of (printed) facebooks out west."
posted by msalt at 10:10 PM on January 31, 2010


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