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The End of Scarcity


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November 28, 2005

The End of Scarcity

Heather Green

On the bus this morning, I was fascinated by the use of the word "kin" in a headline in one of the New York tabloids. Maybe it's because I was just down South visiting my family in Waycross, Ga. They may use the word kin a lot, but up here in the North people seem to tend to use "family" or "relatives." But, I bet ther reason this Northern tabloid used the word kin was because of space.

I could imagine the copywriter struggling to come up with the right word to use to fit the space he had, because I have been in that situation plenty of times here at BW. But that skill is a dying one. Not that I think newspapers are going away anytime soon, but as their number and quantity shrinks, so will the number of positions for people who can find just the right word to fit a certain amount of space.

Online, the beauty is you have infinite space. Though you need to figure out how to use it wisely so you don't lose the interest of a reader. That calls upon a different skill, which people are learning. I felt like one of those monks who grew up copying books by hand and then came face to face with a printing press, tugged between a love for the old ways with an appreciation for the new.

11:00 AM

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Neat comment, Heather.

My first job -- as a reporter for a small daily in Napoleon, Ohio -- involved page layout. Printing off stories, waxing them and pasting them up on the boards. That was fun (and sticky, at times).

Like a lot of industries, a real skill and craft is being lost. Those who can write catchy headlines, and make headlines and copy fit just right without losing meaning are a dying breed.

The same goes for developing clay models in the automotive business. That is a craft. An art form. Now, it's done on computers (and requires a different skill set).

Technology does ultimately make things better, but there is a loss in hands-on skills.

Mike

Posted by: Mike Driehorst at November 28, 2005 12:41 PM

Let's think of some other country expressions that might come in handy. Headline writers don't gain much by using "reckon" instead of "figure" or "calculate." Ditto with "vittles" over food, eats and grub (or, if worst comes to worst, slop). How about this one: GM Fixing to Shut Down Plants...

Posted by: steve baker at November 28, 2005 12:59 PM

That's a hoot, Steve. And I actually meant to write down some of those phrases last week while I was there, but was too stuffed by stuffing to lift a pen...

Of course there is "nasty" and talking about how someone got hit with the ugly stick. Or saying, "I appreciate it," whenever someone says they will do something for you.

Posted by: Heather Green at November 28, 2005 01:34 PM

Speaking of regionalisms, a college roomate from Texas related the incident of his manager asking how to spell "hollered" for a report in which she wrote "I hollered at him to stop." Dale responded "S - H - O - U - T - E - D."

Posted by: Fritz at November 28, 2005 05:13 PM

Heather-

I understand your feelings. When I was in graduate school, the CS department was in the process of removing calculus from the required course list. I was pretty offended, but one of the CS professors asked me, "what about the classes that these students will take instead?" The market determines the broader value. Individual consumers determine what's right for each of them, or us. But, individuals who excel at a particular skill set can still find a place. Steve just posted something on this blog about this.

Pete Z.

Posted by: Pete Zievers at November 29, 2005 05:18 PM


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