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Jan 12, 2011: The problem in going from vertical to horizontal

I was just ruminating over what's happened to the professions of librarianship, where I come from, and journalism, where my wife cut her teeth. Twenty years ago, when we were young professionals, libraries and newspapers were places you'd go to work. They really aren't any longer.

The skills themselves have more relevance than ever. They're just not stand-alone positions that you do in particular kinds of buildings. Instead, they've become things you need to know to at least some degree wherever you are. They've moved from vertical to horizontal.

Of course, this makes things really hard for people who self-identify vertically, as in "I'm a librarian," or "I write for a newspaper". But even for those who can imagine these skills' value in other settings, it's pretty damned hard to figure out where to find a job.

So I'm wondering: are there useful parallels from other professions? And might these serve as a roadmap for those oddly-blessed souls whose work is moving from vertical to horizontal?

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Comment: Mary Jean (Jan 12, 2011)

We're not young anymore?

Comment: Alex Debkalyuk (Jan 13, 2011)

My mom's a librarian, so I'm also interested in any suggestions...

Comment: guy (Jan 13, 2011)

It sounds like the skill set has been disconnected from the job. I'm a project manager by trade. I prefer to work on interactive projects, but I suppose I could pick up roots and use my project management skills at a widget factory. So maybe public perception will catch up to where you actually are (e.g. Journalism is a skill that doesn't necessarily have to be performed in service of a newspaper)?

Comment: Lou (Jan 13, 2011)

Guy, I'd look at it more in terms of the job died and widowed the skill set. ;-) In any case, I hope the catching up happens before the programs that teach these skills die off.

Comment: @katerz1 (Feb 2, 2011)

I think metadata is where it's at. Learn what it means; learn how to apply it in different fields; I think we'll soon start seeing those jobs crop up.

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