My first job after college

My first job after college (not including my stint as a pie baker) was in desktop publishing. I worked at a financial company in Boston, in the publishing department, where we spent our days creating annual reports and prospectuses for mutual funds. It was pretty fun as far as first jobs go, I learned a lot, it was right downtown in a modern office building, I had a really nice, large cube, and our work week was only 35 hours long (9 to 5, what a way to make a living…).

Every year, on a rolling calendar, we'd create a new prospectus for a fund. Each fund issued a prospectus explaining what the fund was about, who ran it, etc. etc., and this was given to all investors and potential investors for review. But sometimes a prospectus would require a change, for whatever reason. Maybe the fund manager quit, or started a new fund, or whatever. When that happened, we'd "sticker" a prospectus, and a sticker would actually get stuck to the front of the prospectus, explaining which pieces of the prospectus' contents were now incorrect. We'd wait until the next year to change the actual prospectus.

Somehow, somebody someplace decided the prospectuses should be available online. And of course, which group should undertake such a task? Why, the Publishing Department, of course. I volunteered to learn HTML and lead the process, so throughout late 1995 and early 1996, our group happily (well, me at least) produced web versions of our prospectuses. And then, a sticker…

There was this legal department that sat across the hall from our group, and they were always underlining all our documents and sending them in for changes. And they were also the ones who'd put in requests for stickers. So we handled the sticker for the printed prospectus no problem. And then we realized the real issue at hand, How do we sticker an online prospectus? Easy, I said, make the changes to the document itself. No no no, said legal. Then the online version will be out of synch with the printed version. But that's ok, I said, since there's a much lower cost to changing an online document. Heck, that's what's cool about this web thing! I said. Oh no, said legal. No No No. We must put the sticker text at the top of the web page, indicating that contents further down the page are incorrect but unchanged.

Guess who won that battle? I think that was about the time I realized I got the web. I think that was also about the time I realized I had no interest in being a lawyer.