Friday, May 15, 2009

Mail Bag

Call me old-fashioned but I still like communicating via good old E-mail.

You can find me on LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook. You can even find me on Twitter. Of the four I have used LinkedIn the longest and find it the most useful for professional networking. MySpace I enjoy on occasion just for fun. It definitely beats Facebook for all the creative options it offers, IMHO. Facebook is probably the best if you want to locate long lost friends or colleagues. It's becoming the world's White Pages.

But Twitter? I checked it out and sorry, just don't get it on a personal level. I do see plenty of utility for marketeers, advertisers, organizations, individuals with lots of time on their hands. The use of it in Iran during the news blackout was amazing. But all the crazy competition to collect "followers" and inundate the cyberways with "guess what I'm doing right now" just seems a little too naracissistic for my taste.

So please don't follow me on Twitter. I haven't "tweeted" in months and don't think I will again any time soon.

But I am addicted to email and getting an iPhone hasn't helped that. It just made it worse.

My StarText posts brought in a batch of new emails as word got around via search engines, Facebook and LinkedIn. Who knows what I might have gotten if I tweeted the news. (Gosh, I'm having a flashback to a Saturday morning cartoon ... "I thought I saw a puddy tat." Is that you, Tweety?)


A few selected emails from the past week:

From: Judith L Sylvester
Manship School of Mass Communication
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA

"I didn't get through it all (21 papers still to grade after grading a midterm exam), but you really knocked me back to the early 80s when I took a computer class at Stephens College (a perk for being a staff member) in Columbia, MO. The first keyboard I touched was a Radio Shack Tandy.

"Fast forward a few years and a computer specialist at the University of Missouri (who was trying to help me figure out a new PC version of SPSS) introduced me to the Internet. As I recall the conversation, he thought there was a scientist in Sweden who could impart some wisdom to me, so he set me up with an email address and the rest is history.

"I spent more than one night in the University of Missouri's news room (I was an editor back then) waiting for the new FAX machine to bring in the copy from our student reporters covering the capital about 35 miles away. It whirred and groaned for about 30 minutes to produce a 12-inch story. My job was to type it into the Aztec system that the J-School had and make sure it was in the right queue for copy editing.

"By 1985 I had my first home computer and learned to use a LISTSERV for one of my classes. I also thought I had it made when a remote editing system was developed so I could edit my students' stories at home and then eventually grade papers from my writing class.

"When I returned to MU to set up and run the Media Research Bureau in 1984, I learned about CATI systems, and the J-School got a huge grant from IBM to set up a new operating system -- OS2 -- and had the joy of getting a Cobalt Cati Program to run on OS2. But, that's another story...."

Judith: It's just almost impossible to separate journalism and technology, at least in the last few decades. Along with learning the "Five W's" J-students need to master the finer points of HTML and video editing. Thanks for taking time to read the blog and commenting. Try and stay cool down there in Tiger country.

From: Alan Melson
News producer at

"Gerry - Thanks so much for posting this - I've been reading ever since I saw the link. My school had a StarText subscription on an Apple IIe with a 300-baud modem in the mid-80s, and I remember the teacher letting me log on after school to read Rich Casey's columns and other content (and I remember thinking how incredibly cool it was that I could read more news right off the wire). Reading your histories brought back pleasant memories of an online experience that piqued my interest, and ultimately led to the career I have now. Oh, and thanks again for hiring me. :)"

Alan: What's funny is I'm not sure that when I interviewed you that your prior experience with StarText came up. Not that that would have made any difference, of course! How StarText became a mainstay in hundreds of Fort Worth-Dallas schools will definitely be a topic of a future post. Thanks for the email and please give my regards to my former colleagues in Dallas.