Editorial: Technical Expertise


Contrary to what my publisher may sometimes think, I am not a Luddite. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Luddite is someone who opposes technical or technological change. The term comes from the nickname of a group of British workers who, between 1811 and 1816, rioted and destroyed laborsaving textile machines because they thought the technology would destroy their jobs.

By the same token, I am not usually what you would call an early adopter. For instance, I went for a long time without a cell phone. Admittedly, that was partly because I couldn’t get service in the area of West Virginia where I live.

Sometimes I am an early adopter of the wrong technology. At one time I had a device which one placed next to the receiver mouthpiece of a landline telephone in order to send email. The usefulness of that device diminished in direct proportion to the disappearance of phone banks in convention centers. Its death knell was the arrival of cell phone reception on our hill.

I do not have a Blackberry or other such device. It is not that I doubt their usefulness or versatility. It’s just that such devices won’t do what I usually need them to do—create, edit, and transmit large amounts of text from wherever I happen to be. I do however have a nice little Dell netbook with wireless capability, webcam, and other neat features that let me do what needs doing. It’s also small, easy to carry, and holds a charge longer than some of the handheld devices.

What about social networking? QP columnist Tawnya Starr started a very good series of articles in our July issue that breaks down social media into its basic components and that will give tips on the best ways to use each of them. Her first recommendation was to start with LinkedIn, and I’m right there with her—and right there on Linked-In. I also host webinars.

QP also has Twitter feeds, a LinkedIn discussion group, a Facebook fan page, and offers RSS feeds. We are also available on mobile devices via My Yahoo! and iGoogle. In today’s changing communications landscape, information dissemination can no longer be confined solely to marks on paper.

These particular thoughts occurred to me as I finished writing the lengthy editor’s note for the new Printing News “e-book” that launched in July. I had written it on my netbook at 37,000 feet over Texas and transmitted the file directly to the office via Delta’s recently introduced Gogo Inflight Internet service. Can you imagine a Luddite doing such a thing?