Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Technology Discovers a Job it Tried to Eliminate

It is very rare to find advocacy for the human factor on a technocentric Web site. Nevertheless, last night Fox Van Allen filed a story for Tecca that actually used the phrase “professional editing” with absolutely no disparagement. It also began with the sentence:
Editors are pretty important people.
What was it that awakened Van Allen from his technocentric slumbers? The answer is Barnes & Noble (of course, of course). It turns out that B&N management has blocked any use of the work “kindle” in any text that is included in the Nook Book Store, since, in capitalized form, it is the name of a competing product. What happened was that a blogger named Philip Howard decided to try reading Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace on his Nook and encountered:
It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern …
As Howard reported in his post, he eventually realized that “Nookd” had replaced the word “kindled.” Apparently what counts for editing over at B&N amounted to a Replace All operation on the full text with a case-independent “kindle” being replaced by “Nook.” Mind you, real editing would have involved a full review of the final text before it was released; and in this particular case we happen to be talking about War and Peace. What would that do to the overall efficiency of daily operations? After all, Barnes & Noble is a business, and a business has to have priorities!

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