Different by design

Well, this is definitely different, isn't it?

Changes to the left of me.

Changes to the right of me.

Changes above me. Into the valley of design ...

But lest you think I am making light of this brigade of changes, let me start by laying some technical, official, newspaper

designer jargon on you.

This is very cool stuff.

You've no doubt read in other parts of the paper about the redesign, and you are now looking at some fairly dramatic changes in the Work & Money section, affectionately known here as WaM.

The obvious difference lies to the left. What used to be the second page of WaM is still the second page, except that it now precedes the first page.

And if you can figure out that bit of linguistic logic, you can probably get a job as a stockbroker, someone adept at explaining why a client's stock shares are a better investment now that they're worth less.

But language aside, the location of a Week's Worth across from the cover gives you something more to peruse as you start through the section. Readers tell us they like a Week's Worth a lot, and this change makes it more accessible.

It's the same collection of useful, newsy, and interesting bits of information. And the subjects still cover economics, markets, personal finance, and workplace issues. Part of the idea here is to give readers a pocketful of information quickly.

Our logo, up top, has changed - it's less top-heavy - but our content remains the same. Work & Money still focuses on helping readers manage the way they save and spend money and the way they negotiate careers and the workplace.

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And as you'll see from this week's cover story by Shelley Coolidge, the workplace is changing faster than a House Republican can say, "Oops."

The tip of this change is titles, but the heart of it is the technology blizzard that has buried the workplace with information.

And the workplace has responded with job requirements for managing that information - collecting, sharing, making it relevant.

Anyone who's been snagged on the Web knows the need. For example, Page 14 includes a brief note on the Y2K problem. It's huge, a "life as we know it" threat. On Jan.1, 2000, computers everywhere will plead ignorance to chronology and cease to function, probably until the human race agrees to pay Bill Gates $243 gazillion for the secret decoder ring needed to get them running again.

If you run a company, and don't expect to have that much money by Dec. 31, 1999, you must have information about this millennial menace.

So you might climb aboard the Internet. But what you'll find is that the real Y2K problem is the amount of information that will be on the Internet about the Y2K problem by the year 2000.

It will crush the computers. My Net search yielded 56,686 responses.

Which is why the title Chief Knowledge Officer makes so much sense.

My second favorite is Director of Alumni. It's probably difficult to imagine a company that values the human resource so highly that the company continues to court employees even after they've gone to work elsewhere. Intellectually, we can probably all understand that the most gain comes from helping others achieve their best.

But putting it into business practice seems extraordinary. Yet not only did Shelley find a company, Bain & Co. here in Boston, that employs a person who does that, she found that the job title is becoming increasingly common.

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One last observation. If you missed Guy Halverson's update on the stock market on Page 16, it's worth reading.

His sidebar covers bear traps - stock rallies that make investors think a bear market is over, when it isn't.

And it may well be that the current rally is real, but these are extraordinary times. Global dynamics are on the move.

Small groups of world leaders are changing the rules of international finance with the stroke of pen, most likely for the better. But the impacts are still unpredictable. Stay cautious.

Be a dollar-cost-averaging evangelist.

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