As we approach this Labor Day weekend, it is appropriate to consider the nature of work. Or, more precisely, the changing nature of work. For millennia, work took place mostly in the fields. In more recent history, the factory dominated the discussion, leading to the rise of the great labor unions. We still have fields and factories, but they and all the other forms of work have been profoundly affected by the rise of the computer and the concomitant age of digitization.
We are early into this era, but there can be no doubt that the new technologies are transforming not only how we do our jobs but also how we live our lives. The promise of this reformatting is nearly incomprehensible. We won't know about a lot of what is to transpire until it happens. We'll wake up one morning and people will be talking about something we've never heard of nor anticipated. Think iPod. Think TiVo.
At the same time, all this anticipation of change can cause headaches. More than one of my colleagues in the publishing business has quaked before the unknown developments the industry keeps encountering. Some of them have been so unsettled by unsettling prospects that they have gotten out of the game. If you want to know how disturbing the future can be to the publishing industry, check the stock performance of the major media companies. I think the term is bearish.
But some people enjoy a challenge and relish the opportunity to forge new conventions and exploit new opportunities. It's the latter attitude we've tried to foster at Isthmus Publishing Inc. over the last decade. That's why, if you check our masthead (the list of employees and departments you'll find below this column), you'll see some changes. We now have a department of digital media. It comprises our Web site, The Daily Page; The Guide, the information-gathering arm of Isthmus that produces our calendar listings, both online and in the paper; and some projects that we're keeping under wraps until they are closer to actuality.
Congratulations to Jason Joyce, our Web producer, who becomes our first director of digital media. He's one of the folks here who has embraced the challenge and struggled to create something out of the soup of possibility. We're looking forward to the future. We can hardly wait until it gets here. But we have to make it happen.