Our Man in New Orleans

I overhear a conversation between Martin and Dungjai about a story in the issue you are now reading. There is nothing unusual about this bit of communication between our executive editor and art director; it happens daily during our monthly production cycle. But what’s different about this particular conversation is that Martin is in New Orleans and Dungjai is in New York. They—and everyone in our editorial and art departments—are working out the technical and procedural details of collaborating between two locations. Martin Pedersen now resides in NOLA and the Metropolis mother ship remains anchored in Manhattan.

This kind of intercity collaboration has, for some time now, been a familiar fact of life in the information age. Over the 30 years of the space shuttle’s run, we grew used to the intergalactic collaboration between the universe and Houston, the most dramatic and expensive precursor of our current system of electronic information exchange. Millions are in the habit of Facebooking “friends” across the globe, a phenomenon that even car commercials aimed at baby boomers recognize. And of course, we know that architects, designers, and their many collaborators are often located in far-flung cities, communicating successfully across time zones and cultures—the way of getting work done in the twenty-first century.

Like design professionals aided by new and increasingly sophisticated computer systems, magazine editors and art directors can work on the same articles, long-distance, thanks to workflow software like Smart Connection Enterprise, which we’ve been using for some six years now to send information intraoffice. Now that Martin’s cubicle is empty, we are getting used to seeing his face on the computer screen as he joins our meetings via Skype.

But let’s face it, the technology is always more complex than any of us ever imagine. So as we recover from the first hiccups and start to settle into work with our outpost, we are learning a new system of working together. And just to make sure we get to see Martin in person, we are planning regular visits with him.

I’m beginning to sense the opportunities our new modus operandi will bring our way. As Martin connects with architects, designers, and policy makers in New Orleans, a place that’s remaking itself, its relationship to water, and its connections with the infusion of new residents from all corners of the world—drawn by the undeniable magic of the place—you may see a bit of spicy gumbo injected into the magazine and our Web site. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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