Saturday, July 5, 2008

“on a blog you can publish something that’s not fully baked – a kernel of an idea.”

I’ve been noticing an emerging trend in my blog-bound city escapades: I usually end up shopping somewhere to kill time before my interviews, hence actually losing money from my summer project.

But it’s a small price to pay (specifically, $20 for an H&M top) for the experience of getting to meet people as interesting as Marci Alboher.

I meet Alboher and her intern slash (more on the slash later) errand-running buddy Sara for coffee at Café Henri, a charming nook on Bedford St. with a menu au Français and an oddly decorative instructional sign for the Heimlich maneuver hanging on the wall.

Truly a blogger extraordinaire, in 2007 Alboher wrote One Person/Multiple Careers, coining the term “slash” in reference to anyone with more than one career (as in, “how does he manage to be a doctor slash fireman slash superhero and still have time for the kids?).

The book was a success, and soon the New York Times was knocking on her door. She now has a daily blog, Shifting Careers, on the publication’s website and writes two monthly columns, one published online and one in the paper.

Part of Alboher’s success can be attributed to the remarkable fluidity with which she approaches various textual mediums. “I’m very comfortable online and in print,” she says. “We don’t know the future of journalism, so it’s important to say yes to everything and be nimble.”

In the end, she thinks, it’s all about the ability to tell stories, regardless of the medium. It’s true – stories can be told over campfires or inscribed into stone tablets, printed as books or typed into an email. Journalists are storytellers, and they must adjust to the popular storytelling method of the day.

Having been a lawyer for nine years before making her own career switch to journalism, Alboher is personally familiar with being a slash. Her theory on slashing favors the idea that everyone can be a Renaissance person: “I like to think of it as layering multiple careers as opposed to abandoning one for another,” she says while sipping mango tea.

Just as the art world is geographically ahead of the curve (when SoHo became too homogenized the artists moved to Williamsburg, which then became the new SoHo and pushed them all the way to New Jersey, which I guess will inexplicably become hip now), artists have employed “a certain amount of slashing by necessity” for years. Simply because of the not-so-lucrative nature of the craft, artists tend to wear multiple hats and lead project-based work (as in, “Now that I finished that book, what’s next?”).

“The rest of the word follows writers and artists,” Alboher believes. “Because of our tough economy, companies are downsizing and turning employees into consultants. So they are starting to use the concept of project-based work, where each client becomes like a project.”

One of the most important ways the Internet can help the average one-job Joe become a slash is through networking. Apparently, signing up for speedy Internet connection can also get you speedy Internet connections. “Its easy to meet people online who can become critical in your career,” says Alboher, probably thinking of her own stroke of cyberluck when editors from the Times read not only her book but also various online articles.

The process of professional networking has accelerated with the Internet; it is, indeed, a small cyberworld. Alboher says that she finds herself interviewing people who she’s met simply by reading their blogs, and vice versa. Depending on the day she’s either the interviewer or the expert, the blogger or the public speaker, the author or the dog walker.


alex said...

Great post, Alex. Really really well written and interesting. I love the whole "slash" idea. And I agree, I think its the wave of the future for many.

dgold911 said...

Ooops. Don't know why it posted under your account, but its me, dear old mom!