journalism

Scott Adams appropriately tweaked

Scott Adams was a sensation with good reason when Dilbert hit the mainstream. He nailed office life, particularly management trends and their effects in the hands of the incompetent. The Dilbert Principle was a brilliant book based on a simple variation of the old Peter Principle — the incompetents among us are promoted to management because that’s where they can do the least harm.

As a futurist, Adams is betrayed by his overzealous belief that the geeks shall inherit the Earth. At the end of The Dilbert Future, he did a truck-driver modulation (“abrupt shift,” for people other than Jason) into a thought experiment that was one of the strangest visions of the future imaginable.

I don’t read his blog because I got just a little sick of the geek superiority complex. Adams wound up in some insane intelligent design-related flame war with biologist PZ Myers that will be studied in university classrooms 50 years from now in Cultural Anthropology 301: How Early Internet Users Wasted A Lot of Fucking Time Shouting About Nonsense. (I went looking for background on this and found … myself. And the typo “forecase” leaped out at me. That’ll keep me humble.)

He drops some welcome self-effacing wit in his proclamation on the future of newspapers, noting that he doesn’t have the best track record in this sort of prediction. But then he goes on to repeat the mistake, pointing to a couple of technologies that will supposedly mean the end of dead-tree media.

All of this is exposition for this terrific response:

So true, so true.

The newspaper is destined to disappear just like movies and movie theaters disappeared when television became widespread in the 1950s.

As I recall, that was just about when the airplane eliminated the train as a form of transport and some 75 years after the telephone, widely installed in businesses, eliminated the interoffice memo.

As I sit in my paperless office, I still remember the days when every computer had a printer attached to it. Funny how different things were back then.

Good stuff.

For the record — I think the dead-tree version of newspapers will continue to decline but won’t quite go away in our lifetimes. We may see the end of broadsheets — tabloid or the three-quarter “Berliner” size makes more sense now. And we may see the end of home delivery. But you’ll still see them at subway stops, bookstores, restaurants, etc.

The Web version, of course, will be the primary medium. Very soon.

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