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dangerous phrases March 20, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Very Corporate Something, Management, Observations, Seen Elsewhere.
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The extremely-insightful Clay Shirky has made a tsunami’s worth of waves on the internet over the past week or so with Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, which basically says, in unflinching terms, that newspapers (and the news industry as a whole) are clinging to the outdated model instead of embracing the internet age and truly engaging in multiplatform journalism. I’m friends with a lot of journalists (I spent several years in the news industry myself), so I’ve heard this from both ends. The younger folks think Shirky’s right on the money (and I happen to agree with them), but they fume at the powerlessness they feel because their managers are, for the most part, stuck in the old paradigm.

I suppose I understand the point the managers (and their managers) are making, which is, “if we try something new and fail, then we’ve wasted money and time with no tangible results.” They forget what those of us with backgrounds in science or research learned long ago: a negative result is still a result.

Anyway, all of this was inspired by this quote from the late Grace Hopper, called a “computer science babe” by the oft-NSFW-but-not-in-this-case Synthetic Pubes:

The most dangerous phrase in our language is ‘We’ve always done it this way.’

I’ve just printed that out and put it up on my desk in large print.

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