Friday, September 02, 2016
I love steam trains, there is something about the exposed mechanical parts, moving back and forth to go around and around, that I find endlessly fascinating. Modern trains are comfortable and can be a wonderful way to explore, but they never have the same alive feeling of steam. And yet, steam trains seldom appear on my blog, because there are few of them left. They are a novelty item, a throwback to a bygone era. I find them and ride them when I can. I will write one day soon, about riding the Cog-Railway up Mt Washington in New Hampshire during the last season of coal fired steam - it was breathtaking.
As technology changes, so does the adventure. I can remember sitting in a hotel bar in Paris in January of 1991, reading, or at least trying to read the local newspaper - in French. Interesting the obituaries were listed by the oldest person first and in descending order by age at the time of death, in the USA obituaries were always listed alphabetically. What does that difference tell us about the culture we are exploring? Travel and adventure change our understanding of what it is to be human.
Today, most likely I wouldn't be reading a print newspaper. I can see print newspapers becoming as novel as steam trains in the next 25 years. There will be a few hold outs, but technology has written the obituary of print newspapers. Why should I wait until tomorrow morning for already out of date "news" when I can go online and read it instantaneously.
The unanswered question, is how will news be collected and stories written? How will we know we are reading a reliable source and not just one person's observation and rantings (like this blog)? The news industry is being turned inside out, wire services have collapsed, merged and morphed. Newspaper newsrooms have a tiny fraction of the staff they once did, instead relying on an army of independent writers to create content. Curators like the Huffington Post (and I know HP is liberal and somewhat reactionary) have developed relationships with trusted sources and consolidate content, are replacing the traditional newsroom. I think we will continue to see fundamental change in news publishing. And print magazines, and newspapers will be as novel of an adventure as a steam train.