Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"O brave new world, That has such people in it!"

This afternoon Reuters filed the latest story on another recall of pet food from Menu Foods. I found this through my Reuters: US News feed (as I expected I would). I read these stories because of the concern of my cat's welfare (whatever my cat may have to say about the matter). None of this constitutes anything out of the ordinary; but at the bottom of this particular (brief) filing was the statement that it was reported "by Sweta Singh in Bangalore!" The Internet does indeed change everything. It would appear that I get at least some (if not most) of my news of the United States from Bangalore.

This reminds me of one of my first experiences with an outsourced help desk. It involved the DSL service I was getting in my house back in Palo Alto, which was provided by (what was then) SBC. Back in those early days we early adopters discovered a correlation between rain and a reduction in quality of service. One day I was experiencing such a reduction while looking out the window at a clear sky, so I figured I had better notify SBC. After going through the usual routine questions that did not help the operator, I asked, "Is in raining anywhere in the vicinity?" The reply was, "I don't know; where are you?" The operator knew my area code but had no idea what it meant or what I meant by "vicinity?" This was the first time I had come to grips with having to deal with a "help service" that was half-way around the world; and I was not happy about it! If local weather was a factor in quality of service, how could I get help from someone who had no idea what the local weather was?

Now I understand that news services, like newspapers and radio stations, monitor the wire services and select the items they feel are most important; but it had not occurred to me to question the source of the wire reports. I had just taken for granted that a story about Ontario would come from Ontario, but I guess that is not the case. Presumably, Menu Foods used the Internet to send a press release to Reuters; and that press release was picked up by Sweta Singh. Whether or not Sweta Singh then did any follow-up activities is anybody's guess. It seems unlikely that someone in Bangalore would pick up the phone and call Ontario to check up on the source, but perhaps that is what happened. Who knows?

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