Why I write (and why it might matter)

My greatest reason for writing is this: I write to help people make sense of things, to understand them, and then to be able to act on what they learn.

There are other reasons, of course, some of which are more mundane. But a key element of my work is to help explain issues or specific items, in technology and religion, two areas where I’ve done much of my writing in recent years.

Look at this story from The Washington Times, in which I was privileged to report on a major upgrade to the nation’s air traffic control system:

Imagine how much easier the commute would be if you had the ability to see not just the traffic around you, but also for five miles ahead. Think of the notion that you could know what to expect when crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge or getting on the Beltway at Connecticut Avenue.

That’s the basic idea behind an 18-month-old effort to upgrade the nation’s air traffic control system.

If you read the rest of the article, you’ll gain, I hope, an understanding of this interesting new system, which is well on its way to changing the way airplanes fly in the United States. Since that’s something all Americans pay for via their taxes, it’s not only interesting, but also important.

Sometimes, the explaining involves people in unusual or interesting situations. An example: DeVon Franklin, a senior vice president at Sony’s Columbia Pictures unit, comes from a church background not known for producing many entertainment industry executives. DeVon is a Seventh-day Adventist, and for many years, Adventists have looked down on “the movies” as a professional pursuit. Yet, DeVon has not only excelled in the rough-and-tumble world of Hollywood, he’s been able to keep his faith in focus. You can read about it here:

In the bottom line-oriented world of Hollywood, the period from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening is when the first bits of data about the box-office performance of a new film appear. That “opening weekend” can be crucial to a production’s success, and most executives would be forgiven for clutching their mobile device as if it were a high-tech security blanket.

But even when The Karate Kid, an audacious retooling of a 1980s classic, opened, Franklin’s BlackBerry stayed silent. It wasn’t until the sun set that Franklin learned of the film’s opening success, which ultimately led to worldwide gross revenues of more than $350 million. On the Sabbath, he asserts, numbers can work, but God doesn’t.

And a large part of my writing involves reviewing the latest technology products for readers of The Washington Times, where I’ve contributed since 1991. I’ll happily endorse a good product, but in the case of OnStar’s FMV aftermarket add-on cellular phone-based communication system and mirror, there were some big limitations, as I discovered during testing:

On Saturday night, OnStar just couldn’t download the audio directions from my home to a restaurant six miles away in Laurel. Instead, the Map application on my Apple iPhone 4 found the address and got me going while OnStar was struggling. Mr. Cross said this was a rarity, but it was frustrating nonetheless. When directions to other locations worked, they were good, and it was nice to have the verbal cues.

As mentioned, this would have been a great product in 2006. The crash response thing is important, and if I had a teenager at home or at college, I wouldn’t let them drive a car without this. But I don’t have a teenager, and I’ve got Bluetooth, a phone with GPS and supporting turn-by-turn software, and AAA roadside assistance. That’s not everything OnStar FMV offers, but it also doesn’t ask me to pay an additional $675 or so in the first year.

 

Doing this kind of writing, which is what I’m involved daily, can be a challenge, but it’s also very rewarding. Readers appreciate the insights, and editors have kept me on the job. I’m grateful for all the opportunities. If you have any questions, my

Your correspondent, left, with Dr. Amar Bose, at the Bose Corp. headquarters in Framingham, Massachusetts. His firm's products need little explanation, per se, but I've enjoyed reviewing Bose headphones and speakers, nonetheless.

contact info is in the left-hand column.

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