Saturday, August 1, 2009

Counterpoint: On The Worth Of Technology In Reporting

Brian’s Luddite Manifesto earlier prompted a defensive reflex in me, so I’ve decided to offer a counterpoint.

I could pick Brian’s assertions apart piece-by-piece, or hold forth on the questionable wisdom of attacking the very same technology that allows you to post your content directly to anywhere in the world wirelessly from the floor of the Minneapolis airport, but I won’t. What I’ll do instead is tell a little story.

As we prepared to leave the airport in Amsterdam, a series of bizarre delays left us stuck on the tarmac for over two hours. Brian, looking worried, passed me an email (printed out, naturally – the man doesn’t use a computer unless he has to) from the military liaison who was scheduled to meet us upon our arrival in Kuwait.

My first thought was to contact her via email, but only secure wireless networks were available. I noticed, however, that the liaison had attached her international cell phone number, so I paused the music on my iPhone and selected a local cell provider’s network. Two text messages later, the liaison had all the information she needed. I turned the phone to airplane mode again and went back to listening to music.

Try doing that from inside a plane with a reporter’s notepad or a Selectric typewriter, and let me know how it works for you.

-Tom Hewitt

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