Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Real Time and In Depth: The New Journalism

I used to be a writer. As in, I got paid to write. Those were good times.

Now I'm a secretary, but I still write, and I do a lot more thinking about writing than I did when I was an actual writer. Those who can, do; those who can't, think about it at work when they're supposed to be doing data entry.

So here's what I've been thinking lately. The Internet changed the game in terms of information. Now success isn't determined by "in-depth," it's determined by "up-to-date" and "real-time." My task, as a blog writer, is to strike a balance between the two and give you, the audience, something that is quick and up to date, but also informative, original, and in-depth.

Fortunately, I don't write actual news. So here my analysis, brief, in-depth, original, and informative, of the robot receptionist they made in Japan.

Yes, the thought of robots replacing actual humans is a bit scary, but despite the creepiness of her face, let's not get all panicky and declare war on the Machine. Robots and humans--are we really so different? Humans, after all, are creatures of habit, programmable, predictable, and utterly boring. Sure, every now and again we'll crap out a genius or a game changer, but the vast majority of us are entrenched in our habits and have very basic needs that don't change a lot between individuals.

Take a receptionist: Hello, how can I help you? Do you know who you'd like to see? Do you have an appointment? Please have a seat, someone will be right with you.

What does it matter if a real person is saying that or a robot? The script doesn't change. A receptionist is never asked to extrapolate how the law of entropy applies to systems in a vacuum, or to break down and reassemble a Glock 9 millimeter blindfolded. The most complicated question she'll ever answer is, Which bathroom should I use if I dress like a woman but stand up to pee?

Hey, wait, I'm pretty much a receptionist. That robot is stealing my job! Where's my torch? Where's my rifle? No foreign machine is taking food from the mouths of THIS honest American's mutant alien love babies that I keep stashed in the closet to guard against the eventual zombie uprising.

And that's how you write a blog.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to your article! As you will see, I had quite a lot to say, and decided to post it on a separate blog post:
    Its message is basically in agreement with your own. The only difference is that, whereas you address this subject by pretending to take the opposite side (and with hilarious results, I might add), I have broached it with stick-in-the-mud solemnity. Yours is probably a better read.