I’m not a Luddite. I’m really not.
Luddites, according to Wikipedia, “were 19th-century English textile artisans who violently protested against the machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution that made it possible to replace them with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.” The website concludes its entry: “In modern usage, ‘Luddite’ is a term describing those opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation or new technologies in general.”*
So no, I’m not a Luddite. I’m not opposed to any of those things in general. More to the point, I may not be as immersed in the cyberworld as others, but my presence is not insignificant, what with blogging and my memberships at various boards and forums, along with the large amount of commerce I undertake online. Still, there are portions of our modern march that displease me as they come down Digital Avenue.
One of those is underway: Newsweek magazine published its final print edition last week and will become an all-digital publication titled Newsweek Global this week. At least it’s supposed to. I haven’t seen it online yet. Despite requesting access to the publication as an abandoned print subscriber, I have not yet received an email granting me that access; the customer service representative on the other end of the telephone line the other day told me that the computers tasked with sending those emails have been balky. There’s a punch line there somewhere.
Not quite two years ago, I predicted the end of the print edition in a post here about Newsweek’s travails and its pending merger with the Daily Beast website. (I wrote that I did not expect the magazine to last another year; it lasted almost two years more.) The merger, wrote editor Tina Brown in the magazine’s final print edition last week, left the magazine having to almost reinvent itself, as many staffers took buyouts or otherwise left. That reinvention, I thought as I paged through the magazine in past months, was sometimes successful: Newsweek’s reporting on the so-called Arab Spring was at times brilliant, and on that and many other topics over the past eighteen or so months, I’d often nod in appreciation as I finished a piece.
There were other times, though: Every now and then, the reconstituted magazine would offer a piece about someone or some trend that was hot stuff in Manhattan’s fashion, art or culinary cliques. I generally enjoy learning about people and portions of our culture unknown to me, but the writing of those pieces frequently seemed more intent on reinforcing those cliques in their Manhattan-ness than on explaining why the new young designer, artist or chef mattered to American culture at large.
So I grumbled on occasion as I paged through Newsweek during the past twenty months or so, and I grumbled when the announcement came that the print edition would end. I imagine I’ll grumble some as I wander through Newsweek Global, too. If it doesn’t interest me enough, I suppose I’ll let my subscription lapse when it expires in April, ending forty-some years as a generally regular reader of Newsweek. And I’ll wonder which newspaper or magazine will be the next to end its print run.
I went looking for songs about things gone, and there are plenty of those. But many are morose, and I’m not looking for that this morning. So I found a clip of the Everly Brothers jubilantly performing “Gone, Gone, Gone” on the November 18, 1964, episode of Shindig. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.
*The English spellings for “industrialisation” and so on in the entry amuse me a bit. I imagine that elsewhere in the vast jumble of information available on the Wikipedia site, one can find just as many instances of the American spellings of those words – “industrialization” and so on – with the inconsistency being the result of being an audience-written and -edited site. I wonder if the folks in the upper echelon at Wikipedia have ever considered the Sisyphean undertaking of copy-editing each page to a consistent style.
Tags: Everly Brothers