I was back in the training groove this week, and on Monday morning one of the attendees had to duck out at one of the breaks. “I have to talk with Brian, who’s consulting for us.” I must’ve looked blank, because he said, “Brian Foy. Do you know him? Works with Randall Schwartz.”
I’ve been reading Brian‘s missives from Iraq on the O’Reilly Network for a year now, and was really psyched to meet him. As it turned out, we both were planless on Monday night, so I picked him up at his hotel and blundered around the neighborhood until we found a Thai restuarant. Over appetizers, Brian told me his wife (an opera singer) has been doing her own Web design for a while now, and was getting into CSS. Then he mentioned buying the O’Reilly CSS book for her, and as he talked about why he’d bought it, I quickly realized that he’d picked it up because it was an O’Reilly book, and recommended. He literally didn’t know he was having dinner with its author.
After a couple of minutes, I finally told him who’d written the book. I should probably feel bad about not admitting it right away. I wasn’t going to say anything here either, but he already blogged it, so… what the heck.
It was very interesting to talk about Iraq with someone who’d been there. I was able to ask him the question I’ve wanted to have answered for a while: “How does the news coverage compare to what’s really going on over there?”
“It’s horrible,” he said. “We got CNN and Fox on the Armed Forces Network and they were both just terrible.” He said that he’d literally been present for things that were being covered on TV by the time he got back to the barracks, and nobody ever accurately represented what had happened. Not even close, apparently. Brian made the observation that images are so overwhelming, so powerful, that the story was always driven by whatever footage had been shot. Not by the actual event in its totality, nor the context. Just the visual.
It wasn’t surprising to hear that, but it left me saddened and frustrated.