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The bombOf course, you must adjust to change. When I began work at the Vineyard Gazette as a reporter in 1972, I assaulted a noisy, black Royal typewriter with a bi-color ribbon and considerable scrolly, golden embellishments on its blockish, heavy carcass. The decorations were designed to make it look exalted, not modern. They were industrial design remnants (you might say, pretensions) of the l9th century.
When a Royal representative showed up to tune the machines, several keys had begun acting as one, or the platen was fouled somehow. The Royal guy was not a technician, he was a serviceman. There were no technicians in those days. Keeping an office full of Royals thwack, thwack, thwacking was a job for an itinerant engineer who didn't mind getting his hands inky. He drove a dim, economical sedan, with the back seat piled high with Royal remains and the trunk full of spare parts.
Then, broadcast TV was all there was, and it gilded itself with early 20th Century pretensions of seriousness, now given way to foppery, arrogance, and short skirts. Broadcast news is the forgotten, feather boa draped over the chair, trailing in the shredded remains of the decorations at last night's party. It reminds one of the party, but the party's over.
The news center of gravity these days has shifted to cable or the internet. On cable, news is opinion, and opinion is news, and opinion is judged persuasive according to how noisy it is.
On the web, sites that hold themselves out as news sources but merely link to real news sources, or synthesize news reports, or offer columns about news issues based on news reports prepared by others, or serve merely as an accretion of blogs about events or politics or anything else, that's not the news; that's some hybrid of entertainment and regurgitation. Nasty. Its aim is to attract attention without necessarily doing the work necessary to earn attention.
When the Gazette went modern, about 1975, the press and computer service technicians flew in, and you had to pay for the flight, the time, plus food and lodging. These techno types never had the needed part with them in the back of the van. They didn't have a van. The part had to be flown in, and the tech had to make another trip. The Royal guy had never thought to ask about flying, or per diem food.
In 1985, I bought an Apple IIE with a separate hard drive, a separate printer, and a Compuserve modem connection. Got it from Dennis da Rosa. The drive accepted those five-inch floppies, and when it worked you could produce something that looked better than the Royal's output. But getting the CPU, the hard drive, and the printer all working at the same time was almost impossible. The bill for one month's wandering around Compuserve's proprietary resources turned out to be an unexpected and appalling $148, which taught me a good lesson about how much I really wanted to be connected. Not that much, it turned out. Compuserve is a long-ago phenomenon now, like Atari and Pac-man, and so many other effusions of the digital age, so many big new things that would be the ultimate answer. Also gone by with the IIE is the SE, the Mac Plus, the mini-mainframe, and on and on.
I hasten to say that adjusting to change need not mean accepting change. In terms of change, as you will learn from the computer industry gurus, we haven't seen anything yet, because, I guess, now, it's all about connectivity. At your desk, in your car, on your cell, on your laptop, your iPod, your HD-LCD TV, your Treo, your Blackberry, you will be connected to everyone else in the world. If you are traveling to visit your mother and your flight is delayed, your PC will know, and it will interrupt your mother's daily diet of As the World Turns to let her know that sonny boy will be late getting home. The restaurant where you have a reservation will know, and the rental car agency and your wife will know you haven't got to mom's yet. Everyone will know. Everything. All the time. Even when you aren't there to tell them, when you don't meet face to face, for hours, or days, or years. Even when you don't want them to, everyone will know.
Know what? That's my question. Online, the inns and restaurants, and authors are reviewing themselves, pseudonymously of course, and favorably. Bloggers for well-known publications are pretending to be readers, attacking other readers who've written critically about the blogger's opinions. Bloggers, who in their pre-21st Century lives were young, aspiring reporters, are now opinion makers who fancy themselves opinion leaders. Some newspapers are buying bloggers, who had been penurious stay-at-homes, and featuring them, until they turn up as imposters favorably reviewing their own books or ideas or restaurants that have slipped them a few bucks to tout.
It's a mug's game, and the bet here is that in time, thoughtfully edited and nourishing news, information, and opinion will lap the junk news. Folks will say, connectivity is the bomb, but connected to what?