Tech-Upgrade Nuances and Hesitations

I get too worked-up talking about why I don’t think Uber/Lyft car-sharing or robomobiles will replace private vroomster in your garage any time soon. So instead I’ll post about some other tech-shifts that have had more mixed results or less implementation than expected.

The first one is maps. In the last three-four years I’ve been astonished at how difficult it has become to walk into a bookstore or even a tourist center and grab an old-fashioned physical map of some place. Yer supposed to use a device attached to your (rental?) car or your phone. Now, this has been a huge benefit for professional passenger-drivers. Back when, if you got into a taxi and wanted to go someplace and neither you nor the cabbie knew exactly how to get there, a crisis could ensue. But I think there’s no question that looking over and reading physical maps teaches you the relationships of locations and the meaning of distance in ways that cyberlocators never will. Lacking that knowledge and sense leaves you more lost in every landscape.

My second topic is clock faces. Not long ago, digital time presentation was supposed to make old grandfather tick-tock hands obsolete. I even owned digital wristwatches. Never again. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a household that didn’t have one or two easily checked hands-and-face chronometer.  And seems to me all the clocks on the arm I see are the trad-look kind. This is because digital-only destroys your sense of the relationship between hours, minutes and seconds. So it becomes waaaay harder to decide if you better hurry up to get some place/finish some task or if you can take it easy. One of the prime reasons to know what time it is.

BUT IT ISN’T TIME FOR SHARED CAR OWNERSHIP, GODDAMMIT, AND [SLAP! KICK! BONK!]

You Are What You Bot, Not What Bots You

I got a malware pitch this week that tried to ask me “If I had any advice to blog writers.”

Sorry, evil machine, no direct response to you. But not the worst question. Because a quite simple answer came to me, which was of course an intention of the twisted bot pitch.

For me, blogs are:

Not Confessional

Not Confrontational

Are Conversational

Basically, the oldest message I’ve sent out on the Interwebs — don’t write/post/whatever you would not say on the open street where anyone could hear you. But try to hold an active, varied, funny conversation that entertains and provokes ideas and new interests.

I can do quick, informal reviews of whatever I want here, old or new. And I’m very gratified that these are now considered real journalism of very informal sort. That’s fun, and the fun is what I want to preserve.

The Chaotic Creation of the Digital Newsroom

I’ll probably need a second life to read this book, but I wish that were more possible. This is a crucial tale and the selected examples are perfect. Abramson was of course correct about how to keep the professional ethics intact, but in retrospect that was not gonna happen under any circumstances. Must note that the one myth believed by too many otherwise smart people was that “local news” was going to be the fiscal salvation of modern journalism: that readers would pay more for hacked-out stories set in their neighborhoods than the most brilliant presentation and explanation of world-sized stories. I thought it mostly reflected contempt for the audience.

I Used To Work on Illuminated Manuscripts

At least that’s what it feels like in memory, from an era before Evelyn Berezin made the typewriter an antique. Doing papers in college was hell — I could type fluently since I had learned early in grade school because my handwriting was mere scribbles, but there would always be enough typos and lame-ohs to require at least one edit. Meant marking up the manuscript with a pencil and typing the whole damned thing again. Good that I was young, with boundless energy. Did I mention the last time I stayed up all night was 12 years ago?