Friday, November 11, 2011

Aimless Reading: The P's, Part 24.1 (Ted Pearson)

  Songs Aside: 1992-2002
Pearson, Ted
Songs Aside: 1992-2002Sent to me by the author. Inscribed:

For Michael,

With thanks for your poems.

Warm regards,


There's kind of an interesting anecdotal history of technology contained in my succession to Ted Pearson's position at Just Buffalo. Ted left me a very detailed check-list of things that needed to be accomplished prior to and during an author visit. It was originally a Word doc from the mid-nineties, and I have a distinct memory of having to convert it several times as we upgraded our technology. I stopped using it after a few of years, but I still have it. It's a fascinating snapshot of pre-internet operations. Most interesting to me is all the hardcopy involved, most of which has completely vanished.

I was going to print the whole checklist, but decided against it. Some interesting facts, though:

We used to keep an entire file cabinet of writer info, including individual folders for each writer containing typed bio, printed photograph, copies of contracts and correspondence, etc. Now all of that is electronic. Electronic photo, email, files. Everything is on the computer. I can remember a long painful period of trying to switch over. For many years it was impossible to get, for instance, a good photo of a writer unless they had enough fame that an agent or publisher had required a headshot. We had to get several copies of each photo, and we also tried to get more than one image of the author, in case one news outlet would not print the same photo as a another. 

After that came the period of transition into electronic photos. For a time, some had them, some did not. For several years, people could not conceptualize the difference between a print-ready photo and an internet-ready photo. No one new what pixels were. No one knew the difference between jpeg and tiff. No one new what dpi meant, either. It's amazing to me how dramatically that has changed. Everyone uses electronic photos now. Most have several portraits of themselves available to send. Most know at least how to create a print-quality photo by setting their camera to the proper image quality.

Even more amazing is that it would be difficult for us to handle a printed photo now. We'd have to digitize it ourselves on a scanner, create different versions for web and print, and then we would probably throw away the original because we know longer keep hard-copy files on individual writers. They take up too much space!

Not to mention that we had no website, no domain name, no just buffalo email addresses, no internet service, no electronic communications of any kind. We were several years behind the curve. We did not have a proper website until 2001 or 2, and even then it took a few years to get one that was user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

I can't say I miss the days of hardcopy, to be honest. I miss writing and receiving letters, I guess, but that's really about all.

from Songs Aside: 1992-2002

from Hard Science

And so they came
          to the shining city

               the burning city
                     the entropic city

          an arcanum devoted
               to punishing choices

                      as ingress of fact
                      as desolation

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