Two stories in the Wall Street Journal are delightfully juxtaposed. The first concerns a remote hilltop village near the Black Sea in Turkey where “tweeting is a very big deal…” but not the kind of tweeting that has become so ubiquitous to online junkies. Seems about 500 years ago the folks in Kuskoy developed a unique way of communicating with one another through an elaborate system of warbles and whistles known as “bird language.”
According to the Wall Street Journal it is essentially a whistled dialect that utilizes one of about 20 different sounds to express a syllable. The earsplitting communiques can reverberate nearly a mile. Apparently neighbours “tweet” everything from simple invitations to harvesting instructions and someone across the hillside can “tweet” back. “Give me 10 minutes and I’ll be there.” How cool is that?
Still, it’s not all a bucolic idyll. Seems the kids aren’t learning the old art because they are busy doing the new kind of tweeting. Which brings me to the second story. There, beside the feature about the worried village elders and their efforts to preserve their tradition is another article reporting that Amazon‘s Jeff Bezos has just bought the legendary Washington Post. The Post, the newspaper that brought down a sitting president in Richard Nixon, has been in the same family since 1933. Doyenne Katherine Graham virtually ruled Washington during her tenure as publisher.
But like many newspapers The Post is struggling for survival. Over the past decade daily circulation has declined to 472,000 readers in 2012 from 769,000 in 2002. With newspaper revenues down 31%, the family reluctantly went looking for a buyer. Seems the hope is that under Mr. Bezos the newspaper can find new life in the digital realm.
The good news in all of this is, that since we shared our first gutteral grunt of affirmation, mankind has continued to find new ways to communicate and we don’t seem to be slowing down. In fact it appears we have a whole new headwind. Still, let the record show, I read the Wall Street Journal in the print edition.