Paper paper, and First-World Problems

August 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So I’m on my way to Tucson doing something I haven’t done in years, reading the physical front page of the New York Times. This is thanks to Jane, the dietician/professor/entrepenuer that I’m sitting next to on the plane. We had been discussing reading physical newspapers versus reading similar content on the web. She stated that when reading the news in a physical paper, you are exposed to more (and more varied) information because there are 3-6 more articles on various topics on the same page that you can read easily.

I countered with the example of the NYT website that has links to articles of similar and different styles and subject matter next to and just underneath the article. They also have a link to another article that pops out from the side automatically when you get to the bottom of the current article. So I believe there are different ways whereby one can have similar unexpected experiences reading on the web.

I didn’t even go into websites such as stumpleupon, redditt, boingboing, etc. I think there’s something in human nature that takes joy in accidental discovery, and people who design these websites know that.

Anyway, back to my first-world problems reference. After we talked, I was happy to read a bit of the paper she handed me. How quaint, I thought. Almost nostalgic. Then I read an article titled, “To Reach Simple Life of Summer Camp, Lining Up for Private Jets.” An excerpt:

“For decades, parents in the Northeast who sent their children to summer camp faced the same arduous logistics of traveling long distances to remote towns in Maine, New Hampshire and upstate New york to pick up their children or to attend parents’ visiting day. Now, even as the economy limps along, more of the nation’s wealthier families are cutting out the car ride and chartering planes to fly to summer camps. One private jet broker, Todd Rome of Blue Star Jets, said his summer-camp business had jumped 30 percent over the last year.”

The article is reporting on an interesting change in the economy — interesting especially to small aircraft operators — and that’s fine. It’s about rich people, and that’s fine. The word that jumps out at me like Bugs Bunny out of Elmer Fudd’s soup pot is “arduous.” I’ve been reading and listening to stories about gang violence and victims of war, some of my best students can’t find jobs after graduating with a masters degree, and this author, Christine Haughney, without a hint of irony, describes the task of rich people driving their kids to elite summer camps as arduous. This really made me rethink what the demographics of this paper’s audience is.

And I would never have done that if I were not reading the paper version of the New York Times, because I would not have clicked on the link for this article after seeing the headline.

Well played, Jane, well played.

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