A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 20, 2015
“Surfing the Internet”

The term “surfing the Internet” was written by American programmer Mark P. McCahill to a newsgroup on February 24, 1992. However, the term was popularized by New York librarian Jean Armour Polly, who wrote “Surfing the Internet. An Introduction” for the University of Minnesota’s Wilson Library Bulletin in June 1992. Polly apparently was not aware of the earlier use.

The expression later became to “surf the net” and “surf the (world wide) web.” It quickly became overused and was dated by about 2000.


Wikipedia: Jean Armour Polly
Jean Armour Polly is a librarian by profession, the author of a series of books on safe Internet services (Surfing the Internet [ref], now freely available at Project Gutenberg) secondary Gutenberg ref, and has been an active Internet user since 1991.

She received her BA in Medieval Studies at Syracuse University in 1974, and her Master’s in Library Science from the same university in 1975.

Polly was key in popularizing, but is often credited with coining the phrase “surfing the Internet”, being the author of an article called “Surfing the INTERNET”, published in the University of Minnesota Wilson Library Bulletin in June, 1992. Coining the phrase has since been attributed to internet pioneer Mark McCahill.

Wikipedia: Mark P. McCahill
Mark P. McCahill (born February 7, 1956) is an American programmer who has been involved in developing and popularizing a number of Internet technologies since the late 1980s. He led the development of the Gopher protocol, the effective predecessor of the World Wide Web. He was also the first to use the phrase “surfing the Internet.”, He currently works at the Office of Information Technology at Duke University as an architect of 3-D learning and collaborative systems.

Mark McCahill received a BA in Chemistry at the University of Minnesota in 1979, spent one year doing analytical environmental chemistry, and then joined the University of Minnesota Computer Center’s microcomputer support group as an Apple II and CDC Cyber programmer.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
surf, v.
Computing.
a. trans. To visit successively (a series of Internet sites); to use (the Internet); to seek information about (a topic) on the Internet.
1992 Re: Size Limits for Text Files? in alt.gopher (Usenet newsgroup) 25 Feb.  There is a lot to be said for..surfing the internet with gopher from anywhere that you can find a phone jack.
b. intr. To move from site to site on the Internet, esp. to browse or skim through web pages. Also: to go to a particular website.
Also as the second element of a compound, as web-surf.
1993 San Francisco Chron. 1 June c1/2 Millions of the world’s most plugged-in people spend hours each week surfing at near-warp speed on a wave of information called the Internet.

Google Groups: alt.gopher
Size limits for text files?
Mark P. McCahill
2/24/92
In message <920224225...@nic.cic.net> writes:
> gopher should be usable over a dialup, and inded it should be
> pretty fast while doing that. 

Actually the current release version of the Mac gopher client is not bad at all on an Apple Powerbook 170 through the 2400 bps internal modem using a SLIP connection. There is a lot to be said for to surfing the internet with gopher from anywhere that you can find a phone jack...I have been running gopher on a powerbook for the past couple weeks and I especially like being able to search for recipes in gopher from my kitchen while preparing dinner grin.

OCLC WorldCat record
Surfing the Internet. An Introduction.
Author: Jean Armour Polly
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Wilson Library Bulletin, v66 n10 p38-42,155 Jun 1992
Database: ERIC The ERIC database is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education.
Summary:
Describes resources available through INTERNET that are of interest to librarians, including electronic newsletters and serials, online library catalogs, bulletin boards, remote access to software or text files, utilities to help navigate the network, sources for learning more about the INTERNET, discussion list guides, and INTERNET library guides. Methods and costs for connecting to the network are summarized. (MES)

Google Books
Finding It on the Internet:
The essential guide to archie, Veronica, Gopher, WAIS, WWW (including Mosaic), and other search and browsing tools

By Paul Gilster
New York, NY: John Wiley
1994
Pg. 180:
Is the Surf Up? by Mitchell Sprasue
Introduction
I’d like to know who coined the term “Internet Surfing” and strap him to a surfboard going over Niagara Falls.

Urban Dictionary
Surfing the Web
Using a web browser to search through the many home pages that make up the world wide web - also used to describe searching through the Internet as a whole.
Usualy involves an individual browsing through the internet, whilst not looking for anything in particular.
Killing time, online.
by Siona Beht June 22, 2004

Netmom.com
Surfing the Internet
Published on Saturday, 22 March 2008 09:00
Written by Jean Polly
Birth of a Metaphor—The Nascence of Surfing the Internet
Jean Armour Polly
November 1994
(...)
At that time I was using a mouse pad from the Apple Library in Cupertino, CA, famous for inventing and appropriating pithy sayings and printing them on sportswear and mouse pads (e.g., “A month in the Lab can save you an hour in the Library") The one I had pictured a surfer on a big wave. “Information Surfer” it said. “Eureka,” I said, and had my metaphor.

The article was published in the June 1992 Wilson Library Bulletin. You may or may not be able to find an extant copy in your local library. Here’s the reason. The WLB columnist, Will Manley, had a column in the same issue called “Sex and the Librarian,” or something similar to that. It was a humorous questionnaire about librarians and their experiences and views about sex. Manley was famous for this type of thing, often writing articles on provocative or outrageous topics.

IOL SciTech
‘Surfing the web’ is so 1990s
February 2 2015 at 03:45pm
By Caitlin Dewey
(...)
“In the case of ‘surfing the Web,’” Zimmer says, “what might have seemed like a fun and catchy metaphor in the late ’90s soon grew stale from overuse. And in techie talk, there’s nothing worse than sounding outdated.”

Unless you’re being ironic, of course. That’s still hot/sick/cool.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Tuesday, October 20, 2015 • Permalink