07 August 2007

Slack publishers, Luddites and lactic acid

Yesterday's gym workout was good. I came home feeling energised and managed to achieve more work in a day than usual. Today, of course, my shoulder muscles had seized up from lifting weights for the first time in 7 months and they ached from the release of lactic acid. I gave exercise a miss and focused on work. Or rather the lack of it.

Having agreed last week to edit a book and made it clear I would only work on-screen as opposed to on hard copy, I had still not received the electronic file at close of play yesterday. I was promised it would arrive by 8am this morning. By 10am, there was still no sign of it and I was getting twitchy. Emails were exchanged. This book is on a tight deadline, during which I also need to file copy with two magazines, so I was anxious to have as much time as possible in which to work on the manuscript. In the meantime, I couldn't start work on either of my features as I was still waiting for the striking posties to deliver a copy of one of the magazines so I could get a feel for it, and my interviews for the second mag were lined up for this afternoon.

This meant the loss of a day and a half in which I could do no work and earn no money. And it's not as if the publisher is paying me in gold bullion for this project. I was beginning to regret having said yes. The file finally turned up just after noon - they hadn't been able to send it because it was too big and it took them 36 hours to work out that it was because the illustrations were embedded in the document and needed to be stripped out. Duh. Sending files by email is not rocket science. Although perhaps it is to those who are not up to speed with using technology. But I would expect professional pre-press companies to take this sort of thing in their stride.

Bringing me neatly to my next rant. I mentioned Facebook on the email forum of my professional body, SfEP, the other day. I thought it might be useful for the SfEP to have an interest group on there so as to promote itself. I wish I'd kept my gob shut. I got rained on by the Luddites who couldn't see the point and had no interest in going on Facebook. No one was asking them to go on Facebook, only to support a possibility to promote the society to the wider world in a very busy and interactive environment. One particularly vicious poster suggested I was a pathetic creature who only has a social life on the internet. Well, no, far from it. I have a very busy social life, some of which is organised via the net. Honestly, these people probably think pigeon post is the most up-to-date form of communication...

4 comments:

Jon M said...

Hi followed your link from Manchizzle. I haven't exercised for a good while now and I need to get out and run. Maybe tomorrow!:-)

It seems to be the in thing to slag Facebook. I have some reservations but it would certainly publicise your group.

wordsmith_for_hire said...

I ain't running yet! Maybe in 2 months' time when I am a bit fitter and some of the hack flab has been shifted...

I have reservations too about Facebook, but I did finally cave in a couple of months ago and join, because all my colleagues were, and were using it to their advantage. But in terms of raising a profile, it far outperforms all other social networking platforms on the net.

faceless said...

I don't think it's fair to call other members of the SfEP 'Luddites' simply on grounds that they question your position on usage of one website. It is quite possible for people to reject/be sceptical about fb and not be habitual users of pigeon post.

Facebook is marketed using the classic technique of suggesting that if we don't adopt their product/service we are failures, luddites, etc. Its promotion aims to generate anxiety among people until they, as you did, 'cave in' and start using it. Early adopters go around telling late/non-adopters that they simply must use product x or show themselves to be losers. So, people who aren't using it have to be insulted simply on the basis of non-use of a single product. I don't think there's anything very rational about that process. It owes more to the pressures of the playground than to serious debate.

I suspect the sophisticated and modern option would be to question these marketing tactics/social pressures and not to play along with them in an unquestioning way. We don't have to 'cave in'. We should be able to express scepticism and question orthodoxies and not feel pressured to adopt every product that comes onto the market.

fb will be aiming to get as many people as poss on there and then to sell for a huge sum of money. You are doing them a great service by calling your colleagues 'luddites' simply for not supporting this goal, but I somehow doubt they'll be cutting you a share of their massive profits or doing anything remotely decent with the billions they make from the collective effort that goes into their site. And ask yourself why MS are so interested in it? Could it be that they are interested to help the world's most sophisticated people distinguish themselves further from the luddites or could it be because it contains a hugely valuable amount of personal data that might open up untold new marketing opportunities?

wordsmith_for_hire said...

Dear Faceless

Fair comment, but the Luddites were not questioning MY position, they were questioning whether SfEP should have a presence there and deciding no, while simultaneously saying that a) they knew virtually nothing about it and b) had no intention of using it themselves. My position is that any organisation has to move with the times and adapt or die. In some cases that means getting into bed with the devil. In others, it means exploiting the best that Facebook can offer to keep SfEP visible and attract new members. Good heavens, you’ll be suggesting next that SfEP only permits members who can prove they have a string of suitable qualifications so that not just any old riff-raff can join.

Sadly, you also seem to be part of the contingent who misguidedly believe that Facebook is collecting vast amounts of personal data to exploit. Maybe it is, but it can only do so if people are foolish enough to put such info on their profiles. The amount you need to register is minimal – name, email address and country.

It also rather begs the question of whether or not you are a Facebooker yourself. After all, only three members of SfEP outside Facebook know of this blog’s existence. The others have found it through Facebook… Oh, the irony…

As for calling colleagues Luddites, I’ve been called far, far worse by SfEP members opposed to Facebook – funny how it was all offlist rather than on the Line and that some of it was borderline prosecutable. I had a string of emails from at least half a dozen members who thought it perfectly ok to send me offensive emails privately rather than debate in a civilised manner in the proper place. And still they continue to resurrect the myths about Facebook. Is it Round 3 right now (27/9/07) – I’m losing count but frankly even 3 rounds over 6 weeks is getting just a tad dull.