Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A world of words...

I have always loved reading. I think it may be because my parents signed me up for the Weekly Reader Children's Book Club as a grade-schooler. Anyway, I saw this article on cnn.com about the "Joy of Reading" it triggered some wonderful and just-about-lost memories.

Reading to your child can be one of life's sweetest pleasures. You're spending focused time together and teaching a habit that can open countless doors throughout his or her life.

But an 8-month-old will appreciate books and reading differently from the way a 4-year-olds or an 8-year-old will. Read on for tips on what to expect and how to make reading an experience of happiness and growth for every age.

As newspapers struggle, there is some sense of despair that reading as a pastime is diminishing. I think the more likely explanation is newspapers no longer serve the reading public as well as competitive media.

Indeed, we in the ag media are uneasy about the future about reading among ag professionals. I am more optimistic, but think that media like this (blog) may be part of the key to the future. The immediacy, response speed, and the ablility to link to sources and addtional information seems to provide more content faster.

On the downside, the careful crafting of seamless paragraphs laying out in-depth information in way readers can absorb it - the real craft of the writing profession - is struggling to find a continuing audience. To writers, especially long-time, classically trained ones, this loss of respect for their work is painful. I am hung up somewhere in between, admiring real writers but using "quicky" techniques myself.

Farmers can identify with this shift in professional values. Our work too, seems to be swithcing to more "quick and dirty" from precise and measured. The key to this may be that the "quick" is really, really, really quick, and the "dirty" is less and less so, thanks to proof-reading, spell-checking technology. In other words, like Japanese cars, the "el cheapo" versions are getting better and better - to the horror of classical craftsmen.

C'mon, don't tell me you haven't speculated about buying one of those $8000
Chinese tractors at the farm store. The same thing is happening in journalism.

Compared to writers like Pam Henderson or Marcia Taylor I rank pretty low. All I can do is exploit the power of the first person (on my farm we...) and substitute technology for skill. But while my skill will likely inprove little, the technology underlying it grows exponentially. For example, I will soon upgrade (I think) to an even better version of Blogger - for free!

Finding work that is immune to technology substitution is becoming one big key to a successful career.

1 comment:

1029barn said...


You are prescient in your thinking about media. I used to be worried about spelling, grammer, and general layout of my writing. Today, for longterm writing like newsletters, I have 1 month in advance to write my contribution and then an editor to change it to his liking. I have learned not to care about his changes, once I have written what I thought was good.

For short term blogs, it is difficult to find time to use the spellchecker. You say what you want to like an instant message and its gone. Sometimes you need to go back a month later to see what you said. I think more information is disseminated this way and that is to everybody's benefit.