Friday, December 07, 2001

For Andrew: I think the essentials are still the same, as expressed in your piece when you spoke of "telling a story", but it goes a bit beyond that. Communication is the key word as I see it, whether you're telling a story or just passing on a tidbit of data. When you fail to communicate, when a story teller loses the audience, it doesn't matter what the medium is, gonzo blog, print ad, dime novel or even a personal email. The 'wired' world of communication as we know it, web, internet, e-mail, etc. has certainly provided new forms into which we squeeze old paradigms, but in the squeezing new paradigmns are formed and I think we are all trying to figure out how to describe and interact with the newness. Some of it fits the old, like the formality of certain forms of written communication, and some of it is quite new, like the ;>} funny faces we create, and the sometimes quite strange shorthand that has become part of the email and ICQ worlds (LOL, AFAIK...). Sometimes the shorthand is almost necessary, or is certainly encouraged by the medium itself. No one wants to read Moby Dick on their cell phone or wireless PDA. One of the earliest forms of electronic shorthand that I can recall is from the Pager Days where people would tag 911 onto the end of their phone numbers to indicate that they want the call returned "right now"!

The web may indeed change the way we communicate... or the way we write, but for my part I think I'm trying to hang onto my own personal style (which began, like most of us, from handwritten on plain old paper, to typewriting when mistakes could cause you to re-type the whole damn page, to computers, which really did affect my writing style in the sense that it became so easy to edit and change things that before would have not been done because the effort was greater than the motivation to see it written differently) and at the same time keep up with the changing world. I really hope you dissuade yourself of the idea that you are over the hill at 35, because I have quite a few years on you and I'm not nearly ready to come to that conclusion about myself. At least not when the subject is writing and communicating. I used to work in the music business, and at the time (when I was about your age) I thought that I would never hear a genre of music that would completely turn me off. I worked in a recording studio and I heard everything there was to hear. I liked classical, rock, jazz, blues, be-bop, plain pop and could even tolerate a certain amount of disco. But there did come a day when I had to admit that I could no longer relate to everything. It started with certain kinds of particularly melodyless screaming 'hard rock', and went into full denial when with rap and grunge. So musically, those are areas in which I cannot communicate because I "just don't get it". In the world at large, however, when we're talking about commerce, and philosophy and personal interactions and entertainment I think that the "gonzo" movement is simply evidence that the world around us is always in a state of flux and at a certain level you have to either keep up or drop out.

Obviously the folks in this little crowd are trying to keep up, and in fact we are trying to forge ahead and understand not only what IS happening, but what is about to happen right around the corner from now. It is indeed a challenge, but one that we more or less have to take on.


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