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Journal Journal: Learning morse code

I finally decided I want to learn morse code. And the response I get from my friends are either "why do you keep playing with radios, when the internet is so much faster", or "cool, you know we could take an arduino board, a transceiver and some other stuff and make ham radio netbook out of it."

The first response is what bugs me. Sure, the internet gives us rapid communication all over the world, and yes you don't need to know morse code to use amateur radio, but I have to wonder why people are so quick to dismiss something because it isn't trendy. Or is it because it isn't easy? Anyone can plug in a computer and start communicating with people fairly rapidly and with a minimal of technical skill. When you factor in the latest trendy social networking system, and the ability to be plugged into a huge swath of humanity with a minimal of effort, I can see the attraction for some minds. New is good, old is bad. Shiny pop culture has to be better, right?

As a marketer I understand and play on that all the time. As an individual, I seek challenges and things that work. Twitter may not be around in another ten years, but morse telegraphy has been with us for over 150 years. Amateur radio for over a century. If I'm in the backcountry, a cellphone with a twitter client won't do me as much good as a little 5 watt morse only transceiver and a portable antenna. When the big one hits the Puget Sound, and communications backbones are broken or overloaded, I can still use my radios to communicate.

There is a danger in rejecting technology simply because it isn't hip, trendy or shiny. And it is tantamount to a sin to reject a method or technology simply because it is perceived as "old". We value artesianal food, and hand crafted goods. We play vintage video games, and like classic cars. But reject morse telegraphy and printed books and newspapers? It is a strange world that will toss out fundamental building blocks of society and communication simply because they aren't branded as "iNewspaper" or "eRadio". But then we sit down to a salad made of heirloom vegetables, drink a craft wine, and enjoy a free range chicken.


Journal Journal: Thoughts on dead tree media 10

I work as a lead sales agent in the newspaper industry. I keep hearing people claim print is dead, and have to argue against that on a daily basis. People tell me they get their "news" off "the internet", but are usually hard pressed to explain further. I have found that in fact when they say "news" they usually mean "quick blurbs on my yahoo/msn/whatever page about stuff that isn't happening around me, but is flashy and cool." Basically the internet equivalent of TV talking heads regurgitating national and international news coupled with some sports and entertainment. But when pressed on where they get LOCAL news and LOCAL information most will tell me they turn to the local newspaper's website, or pick up single copy.

Now this isn't to say traditional print media doesn't have it's problems. I know that for a fact; they are hidebound, full of dinosaurs, and keep pushing to an aging customer base (middle aged and older, plus married couples with children are my best customers) and are struggling to figure out their place in the world. That is more due to corporate stupidity than irrelevance of the medium itself. The Lawrence World has proven that newspapers can be fresh, relevant and current in the 21st century, while maintaining a print and digital identity.

The market now isn't in passing out AP wire stories about Obama's latest speech, or the oil spill in the Gulf. It's about providing in depth coverage of LOCAL news, LOCAL issues, and LOCAL events. The Internet is providing the best medium for major stories that appeal to a large audience. National news bureaus, and those who produce stories to journalistic standards of facts and sources can quickly push major stories. But local newspapers are still your best source for covering the issues that matter little outside of a given community. The trick is getting both the industry and the public to recognize this fact. In the meantime, it's quite a painful transition for everyone.

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