30 March 2009

฿%€#$£±≈§! (the cranky old man post)

Progress is a two-sided coin, I guess. While hardly a day goes by that I don't bless the arrival of mobiles, the www and email, and wonder how we ever managed without these technologies, my thought was always that these would be in addition to – not instead of – existing technologies. I love email, but I do find it irritating that it's become next to impossible to send a telegram. Postal mail is the next under threat – the Royal Mail is talking about reducing deliveries to 3x weekly (after previously eliminating twice daily delivery), and the United States Post Office wants to eliminate Saturday deliveries.

The change has been a bit slow in arriving, but the global economic crisis seems to be spurring things along. Arriving here in Washington, I pick up a slimmed-down Washington Post and was dismayed to read that more reductions are on the way. The weekday Business section is being eliminated. Stock listings are being slashed. Comics eliminated. This comes in the wake of the news of other papers either being threatened, shut down, or moving to on-line only format. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will be on-line only in the future. The Independent may not last through the end of the year. News articles cite statistics noting that the average age of newpaper readers is reaching into the 50s, and young people have never read one (OD once noted to me, "Do you know what I hate? Young people!"). I love all the new sources of news, I really do, but I don't want to ever, ever give up popping by the newstand, buying a paper, and sitting down with a cup of coffee and a croissant to read it end to end. It's just a different experience than the disjointed, fractured dribble of news you get throughout the day from web pages and podcasts.

The shrinking Post was bad enough, but just now I tried to go onto the IHT website. Not only is the IHT the best newspaper in the world, they also had the best web-site in the world – very user-friendly and organised. Now visits to www.iht.com are redirected to the "New York Times Global Edition", which is basically just a sort of one-page front-end on top of the NYT web site. Some day, newspapers and mail delivery will disappear altogether. I hope I'm dead by then.

Washington, D.C.
29 March 2009

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