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November 21, 2012

One month, Twin markers, News on Paper

NewsWire Editorial

For the past 11 years I've written a story during the month of November about the greatest un-natural disaster your community experienced. It's shameful and inappropriate to compare the end of 3000 futures at HP, announced on November 14, 2001, as anything like Superstorm Sandy. Lives haven't been lost. But livelihoods have been, at least. More than a decade after that business-only decision, we all are suffering through the changes HP dished out during that fall.

As it turns out, fall was also the season when we launched the 3000 NewsWire. The mashup of creation memories with what HP's always called "end of life" makes for a complicated, bittersweet time. The same energy -- change -- gave the community our printed publication as well as HP's exit announcement just six years later.

NewsprintpaperBut we have survived along with you, although the suffering metaphor to powerful climate change storms will stop right here. It was scary and uncertain in those first months after a suprising announcement that wasn't a surprise to some skeptics. Now everyone is crossing into our 12th year beyond that ill-fated Nov. 14. And this month we are watching a virtual 3000, the HPA/3000, take its first steps, probably into even more years to come.

However, we used to mark our newsletter's anniversary with our October printed issue. Within five years of that HP exit plan, our printed editions evolved to quarterly products, rather than monthly. We have sponsors and readers who prefer to read this vehicle in print. Amazon sells a lot of paper, even in 2012. But the trend is toward online reading. It's why we moved our reporting toward the news blog more than seven years ago. By the time you read this, we will be crossing the milestone of 2,000 stories reported on the blog. That's happened in less than half the time the NewsWire has published.

And today the 149th issue of the 3000 NewsWire went into the US Mail. As they used to say on TV, more to come. 

Just like many of you remain connected to using the HP 3000 as a mission-critical tool, we've remained devoted to print. My partner Abby and I cut our publishing teeth in an era where paper and ink were the only means to spread news. Outside of our offices here in Austin, a massive mailbox still stands next to the curb. It's large enough to hold a dozen tabloid-sized trade publications. We had nothing else but paper. It deserves an honorable place in our business plan, even in 2012. That paper issue still breaks news that our subscribers read first, even before the blog. Watch your mailbox in the week to come.

Like you, we're cutting against the grain by sticking to some print. In Detroit and New Orleans, daily papers are no longer daily in printed versions. Newsweek just chose to stop printing, taking its news services completely online. Even at the writing workshop sessions I lead in the evenings, my writers often prefer to buy e-books. "I want to save paper," said Blake last night, "whenever I can."

Change is one of the great forces for good in the world, and so we should embrace it and be happy in the growth it promotes. But it takes an open mind and instruction to adopt such an advanced skill. One printed book — at least I bought it recycled — sitting on my nightstand is The Five Things We Cannot Change, and the Happiness We Find Embracing Them. Control and forecasting are two skills I've often found in our community's members. They're a natural for a journalist. But those two things stand in the way of growing.

It's important to know the Five Things.

1. Everything changes and ends.
2. Things do not always go according to plan
3. Life is not always fair
4. Pain is a part of life
5. People are not loving and loyal all the time.

Many of us are moving into the third act of our lives by now, so it's a good time to turn some pages and see how these Five Things have already applied to the lives we've led together as co-owners of an HP business computer without peer, or as a storytelling writer and editor and his readers across more than 17 years.

Every computer ever made will change, and its lifespan will someday end. Yours did, and it will.

Things do not always go according to plan, like HP's Powerpoint slides you saw and believed in August of 2001, charts predicting the future. Or the plans which HP worked at, with some gusto, to make the 3000 a good alternative to the endless fixing of Windows and Unix business servers.

There's the fact that investing in 3000 skills and servers during Y2K was unfair, in the light of seeing that server abandoned by HP less than two years later. The end of HP's 3000 plans inflicted pain on paychecks, on company budgets and survival. Perhaps hardest of all, we've all learned that people are not always loyal all the time. Or their loyalties shift away from ours, while they protect their jobs.

So knowing all this, there are graces that flow from the Five Things. From those endings and change, things renew themselves and evolve. We can sense a larger plan at work when smaller ones fail us. We remain committed to fairness, when the unfairness helps us defend that. 

We expand our powers by enduring pain. And even in the face of not getting the loyalty we deserve, we don't have to stop our own loyalty, or the love of what we adore. Nothing can take away your capacity for loyalty and love.

These are higher ideals, but you can see how they apply to a community whose greatest stories are still to be written. There's a memoir series afoot to celebrate the 3000's roots. There's the rise of an emulator to eliminate any need for a vendor's good business sense. There is also a compassionate and ever-wiser font of helpers, vendors and consultants, to aid in your evolution to whatever is next.

In my writing workshops, where I often use hardback books to teach, I have a prompt to offer that sparks free writing. I invite writers to imagine a story that has defined them for many years. Then I ask them to begin writing, "This is the last time I will ever tell this story." This month will not be the last time we recount the story of how the 3000's future changed.

We cannot change that day, but there are many other things we'll change because of it. We'll evolve and reach out to grow, because we still can count on good roots. Abby and I are delighted to have been able to protect and nurture and chronicle them for these years of change and transition. Thank you for your devotion and attention. We'll see you in print once again, in 2013.

-- Ron Seybold

09:28 AM in Homesteading, Migration, Newsmakers | Permalink

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