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Dad. Cart. Horses.
I had this column done. Then I tossed it. Father’s Day came along. I thought a lot about my father that day, I always do. You’ll find me apparently talking to myself on that day, but I’m actually chatting with him although he left us some years ago.
Some of the conversations are quite interesting. Some, of course, are just plain odd to the outsider.
This time what struck me were all the changes going on today in a profession I’ve been in since I left my first university. I was wondering what dad would make of iPads and Facebook. He knew something about adapting, but the pace was so much more workable.
He came from the country, way out there, and moved to a small town when he was only six. I never knew until my wife sat and talked to him once that he rode, barefoot, on a horse-drawn wagon with a cow tethered behind for the full day’s journey to his new home. It was a home he lived in for more than 70 years. I never asked or listened enough. I was too busy, took way too much for granted, and was too impatient. His World War Two stories, from the thick of major North African and European battles, I thought I’d heard too many times. He was an Army Captain and he was my hero. Later in his life I realized what I’d done, and did a lot of catching up. But not enough.
What struck me most was that most of the changes he saw integrated relatively slowly into his life. Automatic transmission he finally accepted, although he remained fiercely proud of his gear-jamming ability. Ocean-jumping jumbo jets so different from the paper and wire airplanes he’d seen in fields as a kid. Television sets where he watched football games from half a world away, games he’s always followed next to a radio dial. Computers. Well, no, he actually never got the hang of them.
What is worrisome today in my profession today is that the technological cart can often get before the editorial horse. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we must do it. Our technological ability is expanding, not only rapidly, but constantly and across a broad front. Social media alone is a super puzzle.
What we’re doing at Better Roads is making sure we employ our new-fangled capabilities in the service of old-fashioned journalism – delivering what you want and need – not just to prove we are as good as any teenager with this stuff. Our technology will serve us, not the other way around.
Talk to you later dad.