Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Here’s Hoping You Are Still Able to Read This After Business Hours

There’s a lot of buzz within the newspaper industry these days to the effect that blogs are replacing newspapers—a sentiment which has caused me to ponder the role of the Running With Letters forum in the ongoing reorganization of the news industry.

I’ve decided that it’s pretty safe to think of me as a fixture in the Lifestyles section—you know, the humor columnist who frequently subs for the books and literature editor, spots the religion columnist on occasion, all the while angling for a plum travel assignment.

However, in the interest of providing relevant and timely commentary to my silent but stalwart readership, I digress from my normal format today to bring you a muck raking exposé from the technological sector.

Readers, it is my duty to inform you that the Internet is not the 24-7 machine in which we have come to believe. Last night, I logged on to the Information Superhighway in search of pertinent information only to have my search engine come to a screeching halt upon discovery that the site I wished to access was “closed.” Not down for maintenance, mind you, not, “currently unavailable,” but closed, like the bank after 3:00. “We’re sorry,” the screen informed me, “the site is currently closed. Please try again during the site’s hours of operation.” This zinger was followed by a breakdown of the site’s operating hours, such as one might find after 5:00 PM in the window of the local five and dime.

Alarmed, I immediately called an IT industry insider (ok, so I bellowed to my husband who was in the next room) to find out if perhaps I had missed out on some sort of new online protocol.

“What kind of crackerjack outfit is this?” the IT insider boomed after an extend scowl at the screen.

At this point, I’d like to be able to report that it was the homepage of a 3rd grade classroom, and that perhaps little Jimmy got a tad carried away with the html. However, I was on the website of ETS, the educational behemoths who bring us the SATs, GREs, and proficiency measures of myriad other alphabetic configurations.

About four weeks ago, I, myself, was required to take one of the legions of proficiency tests they administer, and was seeking feedback on how I may have fared. The internet, I’d been informed, was the fastest and most timely source for test results—just as long as you don’t log on after 8 PM on a Sunday, or before 7 AM on weekdays.

My guess is that the newspaper industry might be in the midst of a premature panic. After all, paper carriers are a robust group of early risers, successfully delivering the news before sunup with stunning consistency. Once the word gets out that the Internet has taken to banker’s hours, people might be just as happy to find their news on the front lawn at 5 AM every morning.

1 comment:

RockinBlueGlasses said...

The ETS website has always been a bit flakey (sp?). I can never get to it when I want to and never find anything that I need when I do. Luckily, I'm done with ETS. No more standardized tests for me.


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