The Coming Shift

April 2005

This article in today’s Washington Post caught my attention for two related reasons.

One is the point MacMillan makes about how critical internet access is becoming, and how it is becoming assumed that everyone has it, which isn’t always the case. Hopefully, this point will soon be moot, as cities like Philadelphia go wireless (although that is facing some hurdles). You can make the point that the people who are lacking Internet access are the ones without laptops to begin with; hopefully (warning, the optimism meter is through the roof right now) the fact that computer capabilities rise so fast will help prices to go down as well as things like wireless capability to become standard.

The second reason it caught my attention is the style MacMillan uses, at least in the online edition of the article. The text is absolutely peppered with links. It looks like a blog. This no doubt has to do with his subject matter and audience, but this is becoming more and more common in columns and even articles. Maureen Dowd does it (or, more accurately, an underling does it when she puts it online). The NY Times news department does it. This is the way things are headed. People want to read things that they can immediately see backed up, or to go off on a tangent if a point really strikes their interest. I’m certainly not predicting the complete collapse of the print media, since, as someone pointed out to me today (about the aforementioned Washington Post, actually), there’s just something about the actual paper. I agree with this, I like reading the hard copy and am going to have to figure out a new way to get my hands on hard copies next year. But just another sign of the times, which I commented on extensively in my previous iterations, and which I am thinking about discussing again, since it’s been a while.