Smell is also connected to what we now call Old Journalism. Ask anyone with decades' experience in a print newsroom and they'll likely confess a love affair with the newsroom itself — a sensory universe that once included the smells of coffee, cigarettes, ink and paper, including carbon paper. It was, above all, a people place that over time has become something else — more efficient, perhaps, but less human.
Cheering the next advances
Tension between man and machine is an old science fiction plot that just happens no longer to be fictional. The more digitally entrenched we become, the less human our interactions. Everything at the click of a button has made it less likely we'll take the trouble to exchange pleasantries with a fellow human.
I am hardly immune to some of these digital conveniences. I order out, shop online, have groceries delivered, and resent the phone. I read newspapers and magazines online because it's easier, cleaner and I can stay in bed. Still. There's no substitute for opening one's front door the morning after a blizzard and finding a rolled newspaper wrapped in plastic, reassuring us once more that no matter what nature doles out, human beings will deliver the paper.
Of course, this same newspaper was the product of digital processes for which we are ever grateful. Likewise, we'll cheer the next technological advances as we mourn the passing of old ways. Even true believers grieve the death of loved ones, no matter how “wow” their parting.
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP
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