August 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.”

—William Makepeace Thackeray

Word Pair of the Month: fare, fair

There’s a pretty simple difference between this month’s words. Fare with an “a-r-e” means the amount charged, usually for a ride on some sort of transport vehicle. But fair with an “a-i-r” refers to something that is equal and right, such as fair trade. Fair can also be used in a somewhat old-fashioned way to mean “good looking” or “of very light complexion.” Don’t mix these words up. They sound alike but have very different meanings, as in this sentence about modern-day travel: The new fares are simply not fair.

August Writers’ Forum Question

We certainly live in a time of global change. But this isn’t the first such transformation. Learning to farm changed nomadic clans into settled civilizations. The Industrial Age changed those civilizations again, drawing more and more people to the cities. How is the new Information Age changing your life and work? What implications do you see for our civilization, and for the globe? We’d love to know what you think about these changing times and hear about your experiences.

We really enjoyed reading the following from Ted Snyder, a Training & Technical Services Manager at Batzner Services in New Berlin, WI:

Just as the people of the Industrial Age looked back to their agrarian forebearers with longing for a simpler life, we in the Information Age are looking back to the Industrial Age, viewing that as a simpler life. You can see this in the Steampunk movement and the Arts & Crafts revival.

This changes all the rules. People before me looked back to a world where they raised their own food. I look back to a world where I could work on my own car and didn’t have an iPhone buzzing at me about text messages and voice mails. People before me looked back to a simpler world of pre-Industrial technology. I look back to a simpler world of Industrial-era technology. Henry David Thoreau had his rustic cabin in the woods. I have my Arts & Crafts bungalow in the city.

Something a little different came from Geri Kane of Salt Lake City:

I think the growth of technology is going to spread us out even more, allowing for less concentration in cities. I used to work in New York, but now I live on a small ranch in Utah. Thanks to the Internet, I can work in the wide-open spaces, with sheep grazing outside my window. I think as more and more people realize the advantages of clean air and water and space between neighbors, they will spread out, easing some of the population problems in our nation and our world.

Staci Greenglass of Portland, OR, offers her own concerns about the effects of technology in business—and in her personal life:

I used to work in a large office where I had a face-to-face social network. Then last year I began working out of my home. Now my face time with clients and coworkers is usually through Skype, and my conversations are by phone or e-mail. I have found myself less inclined to go out among people, as I can bring the people to me via technology. When my boyfriend recently dumped me via a text message, though, I realized things had gotten out of hand. Now I make an effort to arrange some real face time with clients—and I make time to go out with friends. Funny, before technology, I never really had to make that effort—it was just part of life. I think we all have to be aware of the dangers of electronic lives and try to avoid becoming recluses.

“Funny,” but we got the exact opposite opinion from Mitchel Lincoln of Atlanta, who wrote this:

I love the way technology has brought people out more. I often work at the local coffee shop with wi-fi. There’s a bunch of regulars I meet there most days as well, and we’ve developed a kind of support group. These are people I probably would never have met if I’d been stuck in the same office day after day, so you could say technology has expanded my personal world as well. I think that this type of interaction will continue to grow as more and more people are freed from being tied to one specific office.

Seems like the technology boom has allowed for a lot of speculation about the future of office work. A whole new world appears to be opening up, and we all have the chance to find our place in it.

A Final Thought

Feeling down? Here’s one little trick to perk you right up. Make a list with the heading “Things I Do Well!” Then jot down all the things you excel at. Include little things, like “I can change my own oil,” to midsize positives, like “I can parallel park in one try,” to greater accomplishments. Then underline the ability or event you’re proudest of, whether it’s “I delivered a speech to an audience of 300 people” or “I once saved a guy’s life with CPR.” Just writing and reviewing that list is guaranteed to boost your self-esteem and make you feel better about your day—maybe even your life.

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Coming in September

Conducting Research, Part Three: Secondary Sources

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