Thursday, December 11, 2008

Does The Net Encourage Good Reading?

i did something rather unfamiliar today, i bought two magazines, Wired and Fast Company to be exact.

in an age where print mediums are going extinct as fast as dinosaurs, many are moving online, finding an 'afterlife' in the cloud, the net, the web.. whatever you want to call it.

"all print goes online" as akin to "all dogs go to heaven"

but i bought two magazines, on the strength of their cover story. take a look at these two cover stories for the month of December:

Wired: Saving Microsoft - Can Ray Ozzie fix the house that Bill Built? By Steven Levy



Fast Company: CISCO Gets Radical - How CEO John Chambers is turning the Tech Giant into a Socialist Enterprise. By Ellen McGirt



if online is the afterlife for print publications, why did they die?
- falling circulation numbers
- falling subscribers
- they all lead to falling advertisement revenue and as a business, print cannot survive.

And yet i picked up these two magazines, and i'm going to make it a habit to read habitually from this medium for the following reasons:

1. the strength of their journalism
- aggregated content, not just an opinion, but a valued piece of content from some of the best writers, best editors, who can spot trends, aggregate information and cut through the clutter. in other words, i value the opinion of the writer the same way i value my web heroes, so what else is there?

2. the reliability of the medium
- as long as the publication stays in business, you can expect it in your news stands at the stipulated date each day / week / month. furthermore, i'm not reliant on connectivity, power.. if i see something worth reading, i pass the magazine to my friend (without needing to tag it on delicious, or any other "share this" option.)

3. the form factor of print
- until the day we develop electronic paper, what i have in my hands is not something as cumbersome as a desktop, heavy as a laptop, but something light i can fit in my bag without needing to squint my eyes on an iPhone sized screen. it's portable enough to take anywhere, and i can still interact with it in a variety of non-digital ways.

- content also comes into play here. good, incisive writing that has been trained or designed to be read slowly and carefully. not the haphazard plageristic or schizophrenic writing style that plagues so many dime-a-dozen bloggers. in the speed it takes to beat someone else to news, we just don't take our time to carefully measure our words for maximum impact. it's a celebration of everything that made writing great to begin with! slow reading on a sunday afternoon with a book, newspaper or magazine just isn't the same if it were on a laptop (but you might argue that as my personal preference.)

4. only the best survive
- i sure hope this is true. that good publications stay in print so long as collectively we deem them worthy to be read by the masses (though i will argue that sometimes the masses just aren't always right.) but so far, we've undeservingly lost some great publications, but there are plenty that are still in circulation.

- my contention is that we have so many newspapers, magazines, blogs, videos, microblogs and social networks.. that we've inflicted this tough competition of media channels on ourselves. human consumption and consumerism has bred so many magazines that should never have been published in the first place, and on a more amplified level, the number of online publications and blogs. Anyone can publish - i won't take that right away.. but i sure as hell am keeping my right of reading what i want.

my closing thoughts are these, learn to enjoy reading and making meaning of what you read. maybe print isn't for everyone. i don't know if my children will grow up without ever knowing what print is.. but i think there's a cultural price to all this.. to not take your time to read AND write. if we don't make meaning from these basic forms of media, will the quality of media suffer drastically? so what if you have the power of hyperlinks or multimedia if content suffers?

as a special feature, you can read the Wired cover story here, and if you do get your hands on the magazine, you can tell me if you find it any different -)

Wired: 16.12 Ray Ozzie Wants To Push Microsoft Back Into Startup Mode

15 comments:

Jeremy said...

great post :D

print shall never die!

down with the internet scumz!

Daryl Tay said...

I picked up three issues of Wired while I've been here and while I enjoyed most of them, I realised that a lot of features had links online as well, and that would enable me to use rss to weed out the segments I don't like, and just read those I do (for free). Coincidentally, this issue of Wired you featured was the first I didn't buy.

(aka can you hold on to it and lend me when I get back?)

=D

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