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Tech talk a trial ... but worth it

Normally, by this time, I would've done a column sort of introducing myself and telling people what we're up to here, and what The Source is all about.

I haven't had an opportunity, though – our launch issue coincided with the huge Celgar story, so that took priority.

But, better late than never, I suppose.

The other reason I hadn't yet penned this column was that I couldn't figure out how to write it without being a hypocrite. The world's greatest technophobe launches online newspaper – there's a headline to file under “irony”.

When I phoned one of my best buddies back home and told her the plan, she laughed so hard I think she must've peed a little bit.

“You, with an Internet paper? You?” she asked incredulously.

“Yeah, so?” I replied.

“You yell and curse at your computer,” she giggled.

“Everyone yells and curses at their computer,” I said.

“But you actually expect yelling at it to work,” she snorted.

“Oh, byte me,” I answered.

The reason her reaction so annoyed me, of course, was that it's totally accurate – computers and I share a mutual loathing – I swear, the malevolent little machines see me coming and laugh deep in their private processing units as they contemplate ways to make my life miserable.

Like when I posted a picture of the mayor to go with the Celgar story this week ... it was supposed to be a mug shot, but the computer (for some unfathomable but undoubtedly nefarious reason of its own) kept swapping it out for a shot of the mayor watching the Woodland Park school fire.

Great.

Talking about a highly-contentious issue that may cost the city untold millions of dollars, and I post a picture of the mayor looking on while the city burns – that won't get me in any trouble at all.

Yikes.

That's not to say the medium is without its compensations, though – in the course of my career, I've announced countless “pubic meetings” (they should've read “public” meetings), and other, equally humiliating errors. In a weekly print newspaper, that means a full week of embarrassment and relentless teasing.

With the Internet, however, I can change the mistake as soon as I catch it.

Last week, when I was telling the story of how RDCK was owed $375,000 and accidentally reported the figure as “$375,000-million”, a kind and caring friend caught the error and called me, so I was able to fix it before the letters started pouring in telling me what I weenie I am. (Those letters are still forthcoming, I assure you, but for different reasons at least.)

I can also post real-time updates to stories as they evolve, which is particularly handy for police coverage and ongoing political sagas, and I love the interactive element – people can comment and respond without waiting an entire week for the next segment of the dialogue (by which time, the issue is largely forgotten and the public has moved on to other concerns).

Yeah, sure, I'm scared of computers (they can smell fear, you know), and I only just learned how to work the text messaging on my cell phone (that's why it's been arbitrarily beeping at me all year ... who knew?), but if any message has come through loud and clear in the New Millennium, it's that we have to do things differently, and maybe even make a few sacrifices along the way, to keep our lives and our communities functioning on an even keel.

Environmentally sustainable – no paper to hit the landfill each week – and fiscally sustainable – no print and distribution overhead like that crippling my industry across the nation and, indeed, across the continent ... Internet is just the logical choice.

Is it convenient to teach an old dog like me new tricks? Not so much. But the rewards are too great to be ignored, so here I am. Online. Who would've thunk it?


Truth be told, the primary motivator for me (and I HAD to be motivated to be willing to dig into all this tech nonsense), above all else, was the need for a plurality of voices in local media. The Weekender, Mountain FM News, the Castlegar News, KBS Radio – and now, of course, The Castlegar Source – all are critical in ensuring that Castlegar and district's various views, opinions, stories and perspectives are heard, shared, explored and, when necessary, addressed.

There are plenty of advantages to online media, on which I'll elaborate more fully in September, when everyone's ready to bid the holidays adieu, get serious and dig in for another season.

For now, though, suffice it to say that I'm delighted to be adding our own little pitch to the song that is Castlegar - and it doesn't hurt that when we miss a note or hit the wrong key, I can fix it forthwith.

And for all the readers, sources and contacts I've missed so much over the past few months – I sincerely hope you choose to add your own voice, too – the only real dischord in this kind of community chorus comes when people choose not to join in at all.