How Has Technology Changed the Way We Do Our Jobs?
By Jeffrey L. Seglin* * *
My great-grandfather would likely have answered that question, "Not at all." Ignatz Krauss, my great-grandfather, was a subway motorman in New York City in the early 1900s. One indication of the motorman's long days on the tracks was the use of the "motorman's friend," a rubber urinal that motormen strapped to their legs under their pants.
Even now, in the 1990s, New York's subway motormen find their jobs little touched by technology; they still operate the cars manually, by manipulating the throttle, as they respond to signals on the track that are operated from a control tower. Sure, today's motorman doesn't need a motorman's friend, but that's because of shorter work hours. The New York City subway system, originally built in 1904, remains decidedly low tech. Transportation officials estimate it would cost billions to computerize it.
Unlike my great-grandfather, I can say technology has dramatically changed my job, and it has certainly changed the process of getting a magazine out. To get this first Inc. Technology into your hands, we found ourselves editing and revising copy that had come from a variety of platforms, through at least a dozen delivery methods.
Voice mail, just five years old at Inc., made it easier for us to manage contacts while we were on the road and acted as a depository for story ideas. The fax machine was kept working at home and in the office, receiving story pitches, copy, designs, individualized newspapers, more copy, sketches, takeout menus, and ever more copy.
Without E-mail, half of what you'll read in these pages would not have materialized. Copy changed hands via every commercial on-line service you can imagine, as well as through a plethora of Internet sites. E-mail also enabled me to stay in touch with my wife, Nancy, during the production process, although it didn't replace our late-night talks about how the issue was evolving.
It's true that some of the best ideas for Inc. Technology came serendipitously and through low-tech avenues -- a note jotted on the back of a napkin at Caffe Graffiti, an old entry in a Rolodex.
Still, technology has clearly changed the way I and my colleagues do our jobs. That's not to suggest it's made them easier. More and more is expected of us as the speed with which we can communicate ideas to our readers increases. Allan Arlow, CEO of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, told us, "It's not that new technology makes the current level of our performance easier to meet; it's that the bar has been raised, and our clients demand more from us. It's like a just-in-time delivery of ideas."
From the moment we conceived of this new publication, we were excited by meeting that challenge. We suggest you read Inc. Technology with the same sense of discovery you bring to your business and your personal life. We trust you'll come away with ideas you can use to compete in your own industry, where undoubtedly the competitive bar also has been raised.* * *
Unlike the editor-in-chief of this magazine, Jeffrey L. Seglin is wired. In fact, we used this technology issue to lure Seglin back to Inc. after a stint as the editorial director for a start-up interactive-software company.* * *