While mourning Editor & Publisher’s passing, Poynter Institute librarian David Sheddon unearthed an old E&P from 1984 that featured predictions by Leo Bogart, regarded at the time as the leading researcher and deep thinker about the state of journalism: “Newspaper organizations will be comprehensive information providers rather than publishers. They will generate not a single product but a variety of products available to users through different means” — including moving pictures on a “lap-board.”
The piece was headlined “Newspapers in 2084,” so it’s a coupla decades ahead — or behind — itself. Still. I remember lots of hand-wringing among professorial types in the early ’80s as newspapers adopted “modular” layouts, USAToday came into being (and was generally pooh-poohed as nooz lite) and circulation had clearly begun to fall. This was before you could pop open your Web browser to see headlines about Tiger Woods’ “infidelity” and the latest news of your favorite football team/pop star/political pundit. Just like Leo said we would.
Not all of his predictions were spot on, but I couldn’t help but be impressed — and yes, a tad depressed — to find myself reading about it and subsequently commenting about it on my MacBook “lap-board” computer.
I guess I am one of the lucky ones to have survived losing my newspaper job long enough to find suitable work in a journalistic endeavor that makes full use of the “lap-board” using moving pictures, audio and Ye Olde Print-Style Text.
I spent a substantial portion of yesterday troubleshooting my recalcitrant HP “lap-board,” alternating between it and my trusty MacBook, which works just fine but is handicapped by not having the local office network installed. Why I even bring this up is only to point out that it is possible, even advantageous, to live in harmony amidst both Mac and PC worlds. I admit some bias in finding Macs easier to navigate and troubleshoot, but I also find PCs do some pretty cool stuff too.
Now if somebody at Microsoft could explain why Windows 7 can’t convert a sound file to MP3 without downloading an app that makes it (and/or the HP “lapboard”) go bonkers, I’d be much happier. Bill Gates, are you paying attention?