By: Ivan Schneider [email protected]
Perhaps the reason most New Year's resolutions fail is that they're not put in print and sent to an audience of the most influential executives in financial services, those who understand the strategic implications of technological innovation and have the foresight to take action. Hence, my resolutions for 2004:
Be more humble. Humility remains a virtue, although that's difficult to remember when writing for the greatest publication in the world. But since people already realize that they should be hanging on my every word, there's no need to drive the point home whenever possible.
Maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior. As a technology journalist, each day my in-box overflows with an embarrassment of story leads. But I should not betray readers' trust in my editorial judgment by accepting pitches only from PR professionals having pleasant speaking voices that sound as if they belong to attractive, young, single women who want to date me. Even though I probably could use my life-or-death power over the fate of technology companies to compel the adoration of their representatives, I shall instead use the Internet like everyone else, using the daily lessons imparted from persistent PR flacks to increase my response rate on JDate.
Make better enemies. Joseph Conrad wrote: "You shall judge a man by his foes as well as by his friends." Last year, I used the power of my editorial soapbox to wield the mighty poison pen against Mahathir Mohamed, the unfair tax advantage of credit unions, Robert Shiller, looters in Iraq and Spike Lee. But nobody bothered to write even the slightest bit of hate mail. What kind of columnist doesn't get hate mail? Don't let the smiling photo fool you-I'm a scrappy epistolary pugilist. In 2004, the gloves come off. Ben Stiller, you're going down. Nobody makes fun of insurance risk management and gets away with it, at least not on my watch.
Tackle the big subjects. Writing brief case studies about how Bank X uses Technology Y to solve Problem Z is fun and useful and all that, but the busy executive needs to know how all of that fits together in the grand scheme of things. That's the ultimate challenge for the chronicler of business technology. For as the poet Marcus Valerius Martial says, "Facile est epigrammata belle scribere, sed librum scribere difficile est." ("It's easy to write an epigram well, but to write a book is difficult.")