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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Does digital make physical information obsolete?

I was always a hoarder. Tidying my flat yesterday offered a reminder of this – old mobile phones; broken sunglasses; shoeboxes of sampler/demo CDs. And magazines. Lots and lots of magazines.

However, that was me. I’m not sure if it still is me.

There were several reasons I kept and stored things – laziness, the chance they could come in useful or the chance that they might appreciate in value.

So at my parent’s home, I still have boxes of Beano, Match, Amiga Power, FHM and so on. And in my flat I have piles of the Economist, Observer Sport/Music Monthly and the odd glossy magazine.

But I might be moving soon. And do I really need to transport them with me?

Their mass production and less than mint condition means they aren’t collectible. The notional value of storage space probably outweighs their resale value. And, unlike when I first started reading magazines, I have the internet.

Why do I need to re-read something when there is more new content available than ever before. Why do I need to go dig out an old piece of paper when I can type in a search term? Why worry about space when there is near limitless bandwidth?

There is still some sentimental value to owning something tangible (e.g. I won’t be throwing away my copy of Filament) and some things can still be considered collectible (e.g. I have all the issues of 52) but there is less need to keep everything else on the off chance of usefulness.

There are of course downsides to this. Hard-drives aren’t indestructible (and I am particularly poor at backing things up) and permalinks are only permanent within the host’s benevolence and continued existence. I may have access to the Economist’s online archive now, but the moment my subscription lapses that privilege vanishes.

But the dusty, ripped, faded copies of my magazines shows that the physical isn’t permanent either. And while the chances of a burglary or house fire are lower than that of a computer/internet malfunction, that may soon change.

So, like the workplace where the only physical items it seems we need to archive are those involving paper self-completion surveys or signed documents (and how long before digital signatures become the norm?), my private archives may soon be going online.

One question is now what to do with everything. Recycling bin; charity shop; or ebay?

And what else can I switch to non-physical?

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gord99/

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Mygazines and online magazine sharing

Everything is Miscellaneous points to Mygazines, a new website where people can upload and share their magazines.

My previous post was on piracy; would this venture come under the banner? Perhaps, though I’m not sure whether content owners would be as keen to pursue the owners in court (not yet, anyway)

  • Unlike music or films, magazines have a built in obsolescence – whether weekly, monthly or longer
  • It is not just the content being lifted, but the advertising as well
  • The popularity and mass appeal is unproven

A nice feature of Mygazines is the ability to tag individual articles as well as magazines. This means people can search for specific content – whether it is jokes, recipes or technology essays – without having to guess which magazines to trawl through.

But the site is almost a no-win situation as if it proves popular, magazine owners may go after it. I’m not convinced it will get to this stage as

  • I see the site as informing users of new magazines and driving them to those destinations – on or offline. In the first instance, I would find a useful article through Mygazines. In the second instance I would go straight to the website of the magazine I had previously read. This would make Mygazines transitory.
  • Assuming the content is online, why would users want to scan through pdfs when there are fully functional web articles out there
  • And as David points out; the site is slick but the process of uploading magazines certainly isn’t

I’ll be keeping an eye on the types of magazines uploaded and the frequency of uploads as an indication of whether the venture is taking off.

sk

Computer & Video Games is the latest zombie brand to reawaken

It has been announced that the Computer & Video Games brand is going to be relaunched, four years after it was closed down. Yet another case of a Zombie brand. But where Atari failed and where I expect Commodore to fail, I can see this revival working.

  • The brand has the USP of being the original video games magazine
  • While the magazine was put to rest, the website continued successfully
  • Limiting itself to specials can keep the nostalgia running for a longer period
  • Future Publishing seem to know what they are doing
  • And let’s face it, serious video gamers can be a geeky bunch and this is the sort of thing they will appreciate

However, I do retain one note of caution. I’m surprised that the publishers have chosen to go with the more modern/mainstream Grand Theft Auto with the launch issue. This obviously has the benefit of tying in with the forthcoming GTA IV, but the core audience will not necessarily be aware of the history of the publication. Personally, I would have gone with a Sim City or Doom – a title which reaches back to CVG’s heyday. The market may be smaller, but it would be more fanatical and there would be more appreciation for a high-quality retrospective. By going down this route, it appears that the nostalgic appeal of the print brand is secondary to the ongoing website cross-promotion. I’m sure Future have done their research, and they must have concluded that this was the more profitable direction.

Obviously, success or failure will not result purely from the masthead – there needs to be a decent magazine behind it. But Vanity Fair has shown that magazines with a strong heritage can be successful revived, and I don’t see why Computer & Video Games can’t follow a similar path.

sk