Is Different a Good Thing or Bad?

Paul Bowers

Is Different a Good Thing or Bad?

I knew my first crack at a Publisher's Column for this issue was doomed the moment our editorial director described it as "different." That was how my wife and I used to refer to the French chapeau our younger son bought on vacation one year. And we didn't mean it as a compliment. Why couldn't he pick a baseball hat or something else the other kids were wearing? 

That's probably the connotation many of you have for the word "different," too. We often associate it with strange, unknown or other qualities that make us uncomfortable. 

But as any good editor will tell you, it's important not to prejudge a word. We need to look at how it's being used. Some of the projects featured in this issue are good examples. Take, for instance, the Austin South Terminal story on Page 34. Opening a separate terminal for low-cost carriers on a far-away part of the airport property could be called different. Creating a public-private partnership to fund and operate the terminal is also different. In both cases, different is innovative and quite positive.  

Enclosing an unfinished building in scaffolding and shrink-wrap to enable cement work during winter is certainly different; but it also made a lot of sense and took a lot of creativity. In this case, different saved the day and allowed Westchester County Airport to complete its new baggage handling facility on time. 

There are plenty more examples in this issue-and life- where different is a good thing. Maybe labeling something as "different" isn't so bad after all. Hmmm, maybe there's still hope for my first column.

Cheers,




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