IPEd Conference 2021: Editing on the Edges

The edge of a technological revolution

Pica ruler

Quick quiz question: what’s the object in the image above?

Correct! It’s a pica ruler, used for measuring type size and leading.

Along with a set of red, blue and green pens, this was the only piece of equipment I was given when I started working for a small independent book publisher in the UK in the late 1980s. I didn’t have a PC – after all, what would have been the point of that?

We copy-edited in pen on hard-copy typescripts. We had no Internet or email, and instead used actual books for reference and talked through edits and queries with authors via phone (landline, not mobile) or in person. We proofread galleys, cast off pages of text with our trusty pica rulers and sized up half-tones. Our designers used paste-up boards, cutting up the galley text with a scalpel and literally pasting it into place.

But change was in the air. The publishing industry was poised on the edge of a technological revolution, and renovations came thick and fast. We started working on PCs and Macs, with text arriving from authors on floppy disks, then Zip drives, then CDs. Word turned up, and QuarkXPress and InDesign – we could now edit and design on screen. And then came the Internet and email, and our lives were never the same again.

Happily for me, this revolution coincided with a change in my personal circumstances. My husband switched careers and took jobs in increasingly remote locations. My in-house publishing career was over, but I could continue to work in the job I loved. I had my Mac and I had email – I could work with anyone, anywhere!

The Internet has since spawned social media, allowing me to connect with other editors in an online community of peers. I can chat to colleagues, ask questions, learn about opportunities and help others. I heard about the new Aotearoa New Zealand branch of IPEd on Facebook and have since joined the committee, and I meet with other committee members and IPEd colleagues across Australia via Zoom.

Technology allows me to market myself online via a website (although it’s a work in progress – marketing isn’t my strong point!) and LinkedIn. I can access online training opportunities in the form of webinars and courses, and I can download and update programs and order office equipment.

What technology hasn’t given me, however, are the personal connections that can be gained only through face-to-face networking – as Sally-Anne discussed in her earlier post. Like me, you may be an introvert and struggle with this, but the benefits of networking in terms of personal growth far outweigh any discomfort. So while you and I may meet virtually via a Facebook forum or Zoom meeting, I am very much looking forward to seeing you in person at an IPEd conference – let’s connect in reality rather than merely observing from the edges!

Susi Bailey
Editor & Proofreader
Training officer, Editors Aotearoa New Zealand branch of IPEd

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Online, 28 to 30 June 2021
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