I’ve heard some people in this here Valley saying that Amazon was justified in keeping warehouse workers, often clad in nothing more than t-shirts and short, outside in the wee hours of the morning in the freezing cold for ridiculously long periods of time. Oh, they’re not saying it exactly that way. Remember, the evacuations at the warehouses were caused by fire alarms being pulled, and the alarms were pulled so that these workers could steal, so the narrative goes. Sometimes people with throw the word “lazy” in there before “workers,” or maybe the occasional “thieving.” So, you know, because some workers are allegedly stealing, everyone has to be exposed to extreme cold for close to two hours so some middle managers can get some iPod Nanos back. Some of the workers, by the way, have been saying that the managers are the ones doing the stealing.
Amazon and Amazon fans can spin this however they want. The fact remains that these procedures, and the culture that breeds them, are the definition of unsustainable business. There’s really no better to handle rogue alarm-pulling (if, indeed, that’s what happened) than to let your workforce freeze in the early hours of a November or December morning in Pennsylvania? That’s atrocious and unacceptable. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, really has no better way of cooling their facilities in the summer than farming out heat-sick workers to local ERs via a veritable concierge ambulance service? Please.
Strike a blow for sustainability and stop buying from Amazon until they figure out how to run an ethical business on the supply side.
When I was looking for our friend Chad Hogg’s Lehigh University profile, I discovered that in addition to the fancy schmancy black Google bar, the search pages now have a red text motif and look streamlined. They even have new icons. Observe:
I’ve decided to call this Google Wolfpac. Yes, Mom, I’m 31 years old and reasonably well-educated, but this is where my mind goes:
If you’re not regular Huffington Post reader, you might not notice the changes in the masthead design evident below. The AOL-HuffPost merger became official official this week (they’re, like, totally listed as “married” on Facebook), and the changes are rolling out.
A few days ago, Andrew Breitbart ran a piece on Huffington about the the liberal bias of NPR and the MSM (that’s mainstream media, in case your blogging IQ remains fixed in the pre-Swift Boat-era) with regards to the Tea Party. I’ve said all along that HuffPo has been positioning itself as a “beyond left and right” general interest portal/magazine for some time now, and that the AOL purchase wouldn’t mean the watering down of some hard-left new media beacon. But even I didn’t expect to see a piece like Brietbart’s just yet. Eventually, yes. Just not yet. But the more I think about it, the more sense it seems to make to make these changes sooner rather than later.
Speaking of changes, the first thing regular Huff readers will notice is the change in font, style, and organization of the section (vertical) links in the banners of the home page and each vertical. The entire presentation is streamlined, and some verticals have been bumped off the main masthead’s real-estate and issued a spot on drop-down menus. (Religion, for example, is now a drop-down under “Living.”) You’ll also note that some of the drop-down items link directly to other AOL properties. While I understand the need for integration, this aspect does feel rather patchworked (no pun intended). As a placeholder for some sort of unified branding across platforms and sites, I suppose it’s fine. It achieves goal #1 for AOL in this stage of the merger: show Huffington readers links to AOL’s other content sources. But loading TechCrunch via a drop-down link from the HuffPost Tech box is clunky, and the style disparities between sites could be jarring for people expecting to stay on huffingtonpost.com.
I’m sure, in time, AOL and the newly-formed Huffington Post Media Group therein will iron these things out. But for right now, this first phase of integration feels less like an upgrade of the “The Internet Newspaper” and more like its portalization. I don’t mean to be down on you, AOL-Huff (that is, I sure do want you to hire me for full-time winning analysis), and I want you to know that I’ve been pulling for you, AOL, ever since the mid-90s when all my techie friends were total ISP snobs. Where are their precious BBSes now, old friend? Exactly.
I’m quoted today in a piece by Richard Curtis on ereads.com regarding News Corp.’s launch of The Daily. Curtis rightly points out that the final pricing model differs from the widely held speculation I cited in my original piece that ran on The Huffington Post. It’s .99 a week (not day, as many of us thought). Still, like I said at ereads, it remains to be seen whether The Daily’s staff can bring together the kind of curation that would make it worth anyone’s while to pay for things you can get almost anywhere online for free. Curtis also used the word shibboleth to describe the perhaps generational dictum about information wanting to be free. I like that word.
Thanks, Richard, for quoting me. The Daily: I do wish you the best of luck. You got a not-great review on Mashable yesterday, and the main point of contention was the quality of your written content. Mr. Murdoch and friends, I’m available.
Modern life, I am four years older than you. You really ought to give me your lunch money.
Just kidding, modern life. But I am thinking of extending my end point for Generation X from 1980 or ’82 to 27 years ago yesterday. Which also happens to be the occasion of Hulk Hogan’s first WWF World Heavyweight Championship. I don’t think the lines could be any more clear.
“If you’re roughly my age, we may share some of these academic distinctions:
last or close-to-last class of students to attend various Cold War or pre-war era schools before their 90s and 2000s-riffic renovations. (Elementary school, high school, college)
last or close-to-last class to take a typing elective where actual typewriters were used. (9th grade, but I didn’t really learn to type until I started using AIM the next year.) Possibly the last class to even be offered a typing elective.
last class to run DOS in a computer applications class. (10th grade)
last class to run DOS-based email and instant messaging on campus servers. (college)”
What I didn’t mention was that before I learned to type (and before my family got our first home PC) we had a Brother word processor, a fantastic 80’s device that combined the functionality of a computer with none of the fun. Still, as a budding writer, I was mystified by the green and black interface and by the mechanical goodness of the printing process, which pounded out every word and punctuation mark with austere, efficient resolve. If you love the visceral feel of typewriter mechanics and, for whatever reason, the ability to edit typos before they actually print, brother, these things were for you.
I saw a featured post on the WordPress homepage today that took me back to the days of digital input and ribbon printing. Dr. J asks, and thankfully answers, the defining question of word processing’s transitional age: “Mr. Owl, how many spaces really DO go after the period?” One, he says. Just one.
Sir, I think I must respectfully disagree. See what I mean? Too close. Too close for comfort. My sentences need room to breathe, friend. Like this. And this. Maybe not this, though I was first taught to do three spaces. This just feels wrong. This is the good stuff.
Because I wanted to include a picture of a Brother word processor in this post, I found this excellent Craigslisting:
Brother Portable Daisy Wheel Word Processor – $35
Brother Word Processor WP- 2600 able to save document on discs, print, & see other worksheets, etc on the screen. Great for someone beginning to learn keyboard typing & doesn’t have access to computer. Prints & saves documents.
Whisper Print ultra quiet daisy wheel system
Standard 3.5″ 720KB disk drive for MS-DOS file compatibility with PC’s
Allows transfer to ASCII files
Allows conversion of spreadsheets to LOTUS 1-2-3 WK1 files
Double column printing
Icon main menu
Dual screen capability
Allows you to view two files simultaneously and exchange information between them
Easy to read 5″x9″ (15 lines by 91 character) CRT display with contrast adjustment
GrammarCheck I with “word-spell” 70,000 word dictionary and 204 programmable user words
45,000 word thesaurus
Easy access pull down menus
On screen help function
Uses Model 1030 correctable ribbon and Model 3010 correction tape
Bold and expanded print
Automatic “Word-Out” and “Line-Out” correction system erases a single word or a complete line
Automatic relocation after correction
Direct and line-by-line typing to handle labels and envelopes
Full line lift-off correction memory
Disk copy allows you to copy text from one disk to another
I’m not too enthused about the ultra quiet daisy wheel print system, but this post does a great job of showing us all the features that made these things practical for people who didn’t want or need a personal computer back in the day. What a fantastic hybrid of nineteenth and twentieth century innovations, you are, Word Processor. Even if you have no place in the 21st century market place, you’ll always have one in my heart. Shine on, you crazy diamond!
In honor of you, and of the icy, wintry mix outside, I offer proof of how badly we needed you:
My first post for Huffington’s media section is featured today on the site. It picks up from yesterday’s post on this blog, but considers News Corp.’s “Daily” move in conjunction with yesterday’s announcement of a %47 layoff at subsidiary MySpace. Click the image to read, and please do comment. Thanks!