Computers can’t line a birdcage
See if you can read the following sentence in one go and make sense of it: no re-starting or do-overs, just one read-through.
I find this is a problem with many people who make presentations these days. I have observed numerous examples at Uxbridge council. Now, quite often these presenters are under a time constraint and feel the need to fit as much as possible into the time allotted. If they spoke a little slower, though, they might make fewer points, but the points they made would be understandable.
One of the presenters at the OCNA (Ontario Community Newspapers Association) annual conference, held a couple of weeks ago, spoke about a project, undertaken by the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, which appeared to be a worthwhile endeavour for a newspaper. She spoke so quickly, however, that I found it impossible to follow her and after a few minutes lost interest completely.
When I was a boy in school – (many decades ago, in a land across the sea) – we had weekly elocution lessons. Of course, being raised in Birmingham, we all needed elocution lessons. Anyone who has ever talked to a true Brummie will know how hard it can be on the ears. Yet a lot of people I listen to in public settings would derive great benefit from some elocution lessons, or even joining a community theatre group and learning the importance of projection, pace and finishing each word.
Such training would also help overcome another speaking trait that drives me crazy: the quiet talker. Anyone who remembers the Seinfeld episode revolving around the puffy shirt will know what I mean. One of the attendees at the afore-mentioned conference asked a question of one of the presenters. She was so soft-spoken, the presenter had to hand her the microphone – and we still couldn’t hear her.
However, that was the least worrying aspect of the conference. Most of the information/discussion sessions revolved around the digital age. All day long we were told that newspapers have to embrace the digital technology and establish an online presence. But it all went further than saying newspapers just have to have a web site or a Facebook page. We were told how newspapers should be utilizing the web to put their news out to the public ahead of actual publication, how we should be combining print and Internet reporting. One newspaper publisher spoke of how firmly she has embraced the digital age, to the point she is thinking of making her publication all digital. In fact, one of the awards presented at the evening gala was for “Multimedia Online/Best Online Experience for a Story.”
Being somewhat of a technology Luddite, a dinosaur of the newspaper industry, I found this more than a little worrying. Online publishing might work for daily newspapers in metropolitan cities, but in rural areas where high-speed Internet is still something that many people can only dream about, who’s going to be checking their computer regularly to see if their local newspaper has put something online? And, if you have ever read a news story online – be it from the CBC, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, etc. – you will know how annoying it is to have to continually dodge around the advertising that keeps popping up. At least in a printed newspaper, the ads don’t interfere with your reading. And you’re not constantly scrolling up or down and you don’t have to click several times to read the next item: you just have to turn a page.
Since we at the conference were all in the “newspaper” business, why was so much time spent talking about the Internet? After all, if people want the news fast, there’s always radio and television. Obviously, the bottom line of such talk was the bottom line, since all newspapers suffer from the same malady: lack of advertising. But changing what community newspapers are and always have been – the local printed source for local news – and going on-line would be like a bakery selling hollow, decorated cakes: all icing and no substance.
The Cosmos, as you likely know, has a web site on which we publish every edition in its entirety. But it doesn’t go online until the actual newsprint version has been delivered to just about every home in the township. Of course, we use technology to produce the newspaper and send it to our printer, but that doesn’t affect the pleasure many people still derive from actually holding the finished product.
And finally, you can’t use a computer to wrap glassware when you’re moving or line the bottom of the bird cage.
Tell me, am I wrong?