Saturday, October 16

The KISS Principle

Despite the fact that I look like half a chipmunk today--I have a periodontic consult at noon, should be a joyous frolic--I am happy. Could be the codeine ... but no, that's not the only thing. I got accepted into the JotSpot beta program! Boy, do I love to wiki, and I am trying to evangelize it among the pagan Luddites on my team. (Just kidding, gang.) I already have an eGroupware installation running nicely on my own server and really helping me to get organized. I have not even bothered trying to get permission from our internal IT department. We have just been sold anyway, so I expect our infrastructure will eventually change. If only I could get my reporters to do the data entry themselves instead of transcribing their e-mails as they come in myself. We almost ran the wrong photo yesterday, for example, and I got completely stuck at the crucial moment trying to find the e-mail message thread that dealt with the provenance of the one we had for the guy, a guest columnist. Microsoft Outlook was designed by the Marquis de Sade. And our antique Microsoft Exchange Server? I have to archive my messages nearly every day. I finally figured out that I should just route all messages to my local folder, but it makes me realize the enormous amount of time our organization wastes on managing e-mail. E-mail has always been a dumbed-down technology, trading off efficiency and simplicity for the familiarity of the envelope-and-its-contents metaphor. A step backwards from good old Usenet. Socialtext is absolutely right on that score. Therefore, the solution to the problem of herding the cats of photography for every issue is to have reporters upload to a page with a folder set aside for each issue. It then becomes a simple matter to check the list of photos against the list of stories. Not having to stop what I'm doing, read each message, fact-check the photo, forward it to the art director, and then follow up with him by phone or e-mail--interrupting whatever HE is doing--on whether it is usable. You can simply check in whenever you have time, learn the status of photos for the issue, and process them in a batch. One e-mail to the art director instead of umpteen. I already have just such an installation for my personal photos--not that I have had time to upload them all ... Just need to password-protect the folder with an .htaccess file ... My host, the fabulous Lunar Pages, offers Coppermine with a whiz-bang automatic installer. Crack that whip!

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