Times are a changing 

It seems sad to think that this month may be the last ‘opinion’ column I write for HCM, the paper-based magazine is coming to an end.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mike Randal the magazine editor in chief  and publisher for his tireless work to publish this magazine as he has done every other month for as long as I can remember.

A piece of history lost forever? No not really, just another of the many changes we are seeing in the world around the way we distribute the written word.

The last couple of years have seen more changes than have been seen in history, especially over the last 500 years. I am talking about the ‘word’, the physical written notations we use to communicate.

Consider the Corpus (the complete set of definitions of words used in our language, created by comparing and by reading thousands of texts and identifying the words of our language). You may or may not be aware but the Oxford English Dictionary is based upon an electronic Corpus, and this has been in electronic format since its inception in 1961. Previously to this everything had been on paper.

In its first iteration the Corpus had 1 million words and each year it has grown substantially. Today it holds an amazing 2 billion words and is growing at the astonishing rate of 350 million words a year. The English language ain’t what it used to be.

Why such an explosion?  The web of course! As the web grows and new words are brought into daily acceptance, the language explodes into new forms each commanding new methods of delivery. The ‘printed on paper’ word will probably never be extinct, but electronic delivery systems are far outpacing the need for the paper based word, and as such the casualties are magazines such as this. Webzines seem to be more powerful media; the link (tag) to other data has taken over. Today’s ‘indecision makers’ (the new generation) need something to click, someone to ask, someone to take the decision for them.

Of course this new ‘print’ has brought with it a new set of words for the language. The Blog for instance now has 340 derivatives. Words like ‘Blogstipation’ have replaced the old fashioned ‘writers block’. ‘Bloggocks’ is the new term for a blog containing a ‘load of rubbish’ and Blogarrati is the new term for the big-wig bloggers who write in the new Blogosphere.  Keeping up with the new language is a full time job, ensuring you don’t use a word that is passé is just as difficult.

You may also wish to consider how many of these 2 billion words we actually use. There is the top 100, a list of the most common words in our language. These make up almost 50% of what we use.  Of course what we write and what we say are very different, however many say that texts written in the way we speak are easier to read and understand. The ‘street speak’ in our language is obviously a great learning tool. All eLearning developers take note!

So what of the future?  It seems more and more we are turning to the electronic world for or reading material. Amazon and Sony are the leaders in the electronic hardware for e-book market, Audible and ITunes amongst many others plying their wares for the content.

As for the demise of the paper based magazine market, maybe it is just another new day for this changing world in which we find ourselves.