The Science of Journalism

If I Had My Way
One Man's Opinion -- for what it's worth.

To: Doc Searls -

Cc: Dave Winer -

From: Doug Skoglund -

Date: 28 Mar 2015 01:00 pm CDT

Subject: 2015009 - A Very Short Story...

.. from a very old engineer/programmer that cares enough to spend some time explaining the facts of life in the 21st century.

(UPDATED 03/29/2015 with response from Doc -- in color!!. Please note that some of his comments split my paragraphs -- so I have keyed the response and its location)

First, I have absolutely no need to challenge your feelings and concerns about the advertising business -- I bow to your superior knowledge in that area. (A)I do, however, question your problem solving ability. But, on with the story...

(A)If you do, why do you dismiss what I wrote in response to Christopher  Brock's comment? I do have a lot of knowledge in that area. I worked in it for most of my adult life and have studied it without stop since the '70s.

I thought that I was pretty smart when I graduated high school in 1946. I went to work in a paint laboratory as a result of a recommendation from my high school Chemistry teacher. It didn't take long, working with four graduate chemists to realize that I better start thinking about some college.

I chose Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota that was offering an BSME in five years. They also had a plan that yielded a BS in four and an MSME in five+ years. It took me nine years, to July 1955, because I had to work part time to pay the expenses. I was lucky in that my mother helped support me in the early years and a wife plus a Westinghouse Grant finished the job.

Wow, I was really smart now -- Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Physics -- with "High Distinction" -- that's "summa cum laude" in non-engineering terms.

Obviously, Doc, I am skipping over a lot of pertinent details to keep this story as short as possible. 

I took a job with a small machine shop, since getting lost in a large organization was not what I was looking for. That was a good choice, as I met a fellow that gave me a job managing another small machine shop. That led to my starting my own small machine shop in 1959.

The foreman of the first machine shop joined me as a partner and we did quite well for first few years -- because we knew who we were working for -- the buyers at a few larger manufacturing companies.

We went public, issuing 100,000 shares at $1.00 per -- and things went downhill from there. We lost sight of what we were supposed to be doing -- my responsibility, of course.

My attorney succeeded in getting a young money manager (VC) to visit with me at my plant. We toured my facilities and he asked me a lot of questions -- questions I could not answer - questions about purpose, goals and strategy.

He concluded by telling me that all we needed was $100,000 -- but, that he couldn't afford the time necessary to supervise. He was being very kind; however, I got the message. I sold all the assets, paid all the creditors except my father-in-law, my wife's great-uncle and myself -- and went to work at Univac -- and, started a new educational program for myself. That was 1965 and the educational program is still a work-in-process -- but, that is another story.

The Univac story is good for a few chapters; however, let me emphasize two points. 

1) People will do what the computer is telling them to do. Every manager in the company got a computer printout each morning and their entire day was devoted to the information on that print out -- which is obvious, since their performance was measured by the computer that was creating the printout.

2) Univac hired the Kepner-Tregoe Company to train their engineers in "A Systematic Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Making" -- a one week live-in at a somewhat distant motel -- far enough to keep the participants on sight full time.

Now, what am I trying to tell you -- and why would I take all  this time?? I don't normally tell (write) stories -- after all, I'm an engineer/programmer -- we normally deal with people that just want the facts. So let me explain.(B)

(B)But you're not explaining now. You're stopping in the midst of an interesting narrative to give me grief:

I don't know where you got that picky-picky method of message analysis that you used on me and you, more recently, used on Christopher Block. (C)It is an insult because you are indicating an inability or unwillingness to understand what the correspondent is trying to say. (D)In other words, you don't care enough to make the effort -- you assume an insult (E)and are responding accordingly (F)-- when you should care enough to acknowledge that the writer cared enough to write a rather comprehensive paragraph.(G)

(C)It's called conversation. Dialog. It's what I'm trying to do here. One person listens and replies. The other person does the same. Facebook's interface for that is lousy, so I responded on my blog.

(D)Not true. Did you notice that I called his comment long and thoughtful and that I responded to every line of it?

(E)I did not.

(F)I did not.

(G)Did you see his response to what I wrote? It's here: 

Obviously, Doc, there is more to my original story; (H)however, allow me to cut-to-the-quick and make a couple of additional points.

(H)I was expecting to hear it.

3) We are living in an entirely new world due to the introduction of the Personal Computer(I) -- please remember this phrase:

(I)I agree. I'd go beyond that to say it's a new world due to the Internet as well

The world is being run by computer,
that was programmed by a college drop-out(J)

(J)Two of them, if you include Steve Jobs. Or three, if you include Mark  Zuckerberg.

4) If you have any problem with what people are doing, you must look at the programming of that computer. The people are merely doing what the computer tells them to do.(K)

(K)Not sure about that. Am I doing what Bill Gates of Steve Jobs is telling me to do? Are you?

5) Please note my use of the phrase "care enough" -- The airline crash in the Alps gave me a thought -- that co-pilot didn't care enough about himself or care enough about the 150 people onboard so the appropriate question should be: "Why didn't he care enough?? And the most likely answer is the system didn't care enough when he needed help.(L)

(L)Possibly true.

6) The present system rewards people that "talk at" each other (Twitter/Facebook) when it should be rewarding people for "talking with" each other.(M)

(M)What's the difference between the people and the system? Serious question.

7) I care enough to make this effort to "open the door." Can you care enough to explore the other side??(N)

(N)Yes, if you don't start every communication with a judgement of me or an insult, and show some respect for what I bring to the table.



To be continued (I really hope) 

Doug Skoglund

I don't provide for comments since that is a system designed to control the communication process -- I do provide an e-mail address!! (Please put a [MYWAY] in your title to get my attention).

BTW, I am working on a replacement system -- and I sure could use some help.

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