Don Marti

Thu 14 Jul 2005 12:48:38 AM PDT

Death of Print

I'm not worried about the Death of Print where technology journalism is concerned. "End-user" titles such as Top Ten Programs You Should Download To Fix The Registry Corruption Caused By Last Issue's Top Ten Programs Monthly are doomed first as vendors shift their budgets to Google ads, and even the "hairier" magazines such as Linux Journal have a fight on their hands.

But what's the worst that could happen? Surprisingly little. In technology, peer media has the competence to pick up the slack, and maybe even do a better job. Wikipedia even shows that there are people who will copy-edit on a peer production basis. Would I rather read the articles in Linux Journal or the top ten non-magazine Linux articles that a meta site such as LWN picks up each month? Most months it's pretty close.

You still get a lot of value out of Linux Journal or the other good IT publications, but if you lost your favorite computer magazine because it no longer made business sense to produce, you can pretty quickly make up for it elsewhere.

The place where the Death of Print absolutely gives me the heebie-jeebies is at the local newspaper. Ebay and are better classified ads than the classified ads. Supermarket and department store ad supplements are coming to me stand-alone, via US Mail. So who's going to go to the City Council meeting and tell us when our elected representatives are taking tax money and going into the movie theater business with it, or when a hometown company is spraying workers with toxic pesticides?

Peer media is good enough to take over for technology journalism if we lose that. It is not yet a replacement for the daily paper. TV news has half a century of practice, and it's not even a replacement for the daily paper.