Thursday, February 2, 2017

I'm asking for 29 minutes

I've been carrying around on my laptop for the past six months or so an award-winning documentary called "Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu."

It's the story of "The New York Times'" transition from hot metal type to digital typesetting and composition.

Here's a link to the movie.

If I ran the zoo, or if I were once again teaching advertising, I would make it required watching for one and all. 

It shows, in excruciating detail, the craft elements behind putting a printed page together, when putting a page together was hard.

Today, of course, the very machine I'm typing this on makes creating an ad easy. 

Copy change?

No problem. 

You just type it and it's set.

Only it's not that easy. And watching "Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu," shows you the work behind what has been made easy in our digital era.

I'm being persnickety here. Because I think too many people in our industry have forgotten how magisterial our work can be. How carefully we write what we write and design what we design and typeset what we typeset.

Our machinery makes it look simple. Our experience does too.

Because, to use a project management term, we no longer see the dependencies that go into each amendment.

So listen, do me a favor.

Close the door you no longer have and for 29 minutes watch "Farewell."

Then the next time 106 rounds of changes come in on a one-color buck-slip, think what's behind making those changes happen.

In other words, take a moment to think about how we make things and the people that make them.

There's sweat and brain mixed with that printer's ink.

Even if the ink, these days, is merely pixels.

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