An Early “Wikipedia” on The Drive

Some while ago, and in another place, I posted about an early version of Craig’s List from way back in 1952.  I have now found another example that, far more elaborate, could be a precursor of Wikipedia operating from a storefront on Commercial Drive.  Here is the story as reported by The Highland Echo on 23rd January 1975.

Have you ever been doing something that you take completely for granted, when someone came up to you and said: ‘Hey, where did you ever learn to do that?” Everybody has such a skill, something that is a very commonplace thing to him but that other people think unusual … And there is probably someone somwhere who would like to know how to do this.  If there is, and I wanted to teach them, how would we ever get together were it not for the Learning Exchange at 1320 Commercial Drive.

One of the basic ideas of the Exchange, says Saul Arbess, the man who runs the place, is that people should respect their own skills, share them with others, and realize they don’t need credentials to teach…

The Exchange was begun in August [1974] by Vancouver Community College Almost anything you can think up, the Exchange will list.  And with the aid of six assistants, acquired through a recent LIP grant, Saul is currently canvassing the city for more information …

How does Saul keep track of all this information?  Well he has a hand dandy computer terminal connected to a central computer at UBC.  Called the Community Memory, the system allows you to quickly find information on any subject you are interested in.

VCC moved its office in 1976, but once again Commercial Drive had shown it was ahead of its time!