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The ghost of Future Shoes

Final words. The ghost of Future Shoes Final words. by Michael Finley (c) 2001 by Michael Finley

As a technology journalist, I have been a big cheerleader for the “new economy.” I have believed that the information revolution would set us free from many cares and make our work lives more bearable and less anxious.

Well, we ain’t there yet. My Future Shoes column has been canceled, so I join my many colleagues and friends on the tech front in the soup lines and at the help wanted boards. This is the last Future Shoes for now.

Why’d I get shut down? Because while we all love online content, publishers have not figured out how to profit from it. Ad sales are slow, and subscriptions are impossible. It’s a big problem.

My editor, James, wanted to do right by his writers, but the dollars weren’t there. It ain’t nobody’s fault. It just is.

They say that when the other fellow is out of a job, it’s a recession. But when you’re out of a job, that’s a depression. ‘Tis true, I was depressed when I first got the news. It’s so nice to be able to do something you love doing. And to get paid for it besides–oh, my. That was always the essential beauty of the so-called New Economy. Instead of toting barges and lifting bales, we’d all work out of our knowledge base and, if we got really lucky, like me, out of one’s pleasure center.

But pleasure comes in many forms. I was pleased when a zillion friends who read about my luck wrote in with a chuck to my chin, or an idea about where to head next.

Come in from the cold, some advised. Get a job with the state–what agency head wouldn’t want his very own published writer, in the corner of an office, in some kind of cage?

Maybe I should teach. Doesn’t that sound splendid, shaping tomorrow’s minds today. That way we’d be sure to get a New Economy. We’d grow it in the lab.

Anyway, don’t you give up. I’ll be gone, but the Future Shoes are out there somewhere, shuffling about in the dark. When you’re listening to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” in the voicemail queue while waiting for the tech support guy to pick up, they’ll be there.

When your system crashes and your work disappears, and the last words you see are a message from Microsoft telling you it was your own damn fault because you made some stupid illegal command, look around, because the Future Shoes will be there, toes poking from the hem of the drapes.

When you want to put your head down and have a good hard cry, let Future Shoes be your pillow. They’ve been there for me. They know exactly how you feel.

So I’m sweeping up my spotlight, and depositing it in the can. Thanks everyone for letting me go on.

For my final thought, I think Al Gore said it best: sigh.

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