Some college students stumped by P.E.I. phone book

Do young people know how to use a phone book? Six journalism students from P.E.I.'s Holland College used "ancient technology" to try to find a phone number.

Six journalism students try to use 'ancient technology' to find a phone number.

'This is ancient technology!' 1:09

If you needed to find a number in the phone book, could you do it?

Many Islanders would say yes, but for some younger people sifting through a phone book seems outdated, or unfamiliar.

CBC's Pat Martel put some students from the journalism program at Holland College to the test.

With a name and a community — Fernwood, P.E.I. — they were asked to find a specific phone number.

"This is ancient technology to me," said first year student Stephen Clarke from Cornwall, P.E.I., as he flipped through the phone book.

Journalism student Stephen Clarke flips through the P.E.I. phone book as fellow student Alison Jenkins looks on. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Clarke was one of six students taking part in the exercise.

'We grew up right when the internet was starting to boom'

"We're 19, so we're at that special age where we grew up right when the internet was starting to boom, " said Calvin Parsons from North Rustico, P.E.I.

"I've never used the phone book before. I've just always used the internet," said Parsons. 

Journalism student Cassidy Jones gets more flustered flipping through the phone book, while her classmate Calvin Parsons also tries to find a phone number. (Pat Martel/CBC News)

That sentiment was echoed by most of the students taking part in the exercise.  

The objective was to show the students that the phone book — although perhaps a thing of the past —  can actually be another helpful tool to find someone who may not be listed online.

Alphabetical order wasn't the challenge for the students. But the layout of the communities was.

'My age is finally an advantage'

Alison Jenkins, who is in her 30s, was the only one to find the phone number.

Journalism student Alison Jenkins from Brookvale, P.E.I., smiles as she was the only one of the six to find the phone number. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"Aha! My age is finally an advantage," she said.

After the exercise, CBC spoke to the class, giving them some examples of how the phone book has helped journalists find contacts, and explaining where to find the index page for the communities.

The instructor of the journalism program, Wayne Young, said this was a good exercise for students to learn about another research tool many students may not have considered.

About the Author

Pat Martel

Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning — from a writer-broadcaster to a producer. This year, Pat joined the web team with an eye to create great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He always welcomes great story ideas that are visually appealing.