I'd like to address this comment: "I personally believe we are in a post-literate society. It's just that no one has solved the Hulu voodoo economics equation for the tech sector. Videos remain expensive and time-consuming to create."
If I understand this comment correctly, it's saying that "nobody reads anymore" and would rather watch videos. If that's the intended meaning, I quite disagree because the problem with videos for technical information is that they're way too slow to access and review. A well-designed print article -- whether it's on paper or on Wikipedia -- has the advantage that you can quickly scan it. You can glance at the table of contents and figures and very quickly find (or re-find) the 5% of the article that you actually need. You can also search for words or phrases.
With video you're slowly plodding through one minute after another waiting for the 15 seconds you actually need. Videos are great if you're in the mood for a good, long story ("pass the bottle"), but if you're trying to find specific technical information IMO they're totally the wrong medium and a waste of resources.
@betajet- I respect what you're saying. I'd clarify my "post-literate" society remark by noting that I'm not commenting on which format is "better." I'm simply stating what is. Since the remark is reductionist by definition -- i.e., clearly not EVERYBODY is in a post-literate "I'll consume video, video, video" -- I think it's more the case that I'm a little bit ahead of the curve.
Totally agree. I must say that I can't understand how anyone could be in favor of preserving print for technical information - I used to spend about half my time filing papers in different ways so that I could find them; now that is done in a few seconds with search software on my computer. But video: exactly as betajet says.
What a great post, Alex. Whilst there are benefits, particularly environmental, in the move away from print, your article highlights the key problem: readers like print. In fact when your company, UBM, recently surveyed engineers around the world you found that EVERY age group expressed a preference for print publications over publication websites when developing new design ideas.
The real issue is that advertisers have lost interest in print, and budgets have switched to online. Whilst there are huge benefits to online advertising, I suspect it's the "accountability" that is driving the change. When asked what an advertising campaign produced, marketing managers can offer spreadsheets showing detailed analysis of clicks. Understanding whether print campaigns work requires research - too much work for many companies.
But this is the reality of today, and I'm sure we will see many other print titles close over the next three months. I just hope that the websites that succeed will do so because they're "the best darn must-read site on the planet" rather than being built round the Google algorithms in a cynical ploy to drive traffic by optimising for search rather than users.
One unspoken benefit of an all-digital publishing strategy for us or anyone for that matter, is the possibility that we can capture more of your attention during a given day because you can access EE Times anytime, anywhere (computer/tablet/phone).
If we do it properly, we can become an even more valuable information source in the next 40 years than we've been in the past 40 years. We become more 3D compared with print's 2D world. We're not there yet, but given our never-dull digital evolution since 1994, I have no doubt we'll all get there together, and we'll do it with your guidance and feedback.
“you can access EE Times anytime, anywhere (computer/tablet/phone)”: While I don’t necessarily disagree with the move to digital, the above is not a true statement. Perhaps one day it will be, but I have the same issue with it that I do with storing my music on the cloud: I can not access the internet in all places. There are many places in this country (I’m in the US) where connectivity is still an issue. Folks living in large cities still tend to forget that.
In the Internet age when a mobile phone or twitter post can scoop the best journalism organization in the world--it was a Pakistani tweet that let the world know, as it happened, Osama Bin Ladin had been found not CNN--every professional journalism organization is faced with the same problem: how to deliver an editorial product that commands readership at the same time provide a return on investment that management (shareholders) expect.
Welcome to pure digital then :- ) Now that you are going down this path, may I suggest that you let some air into your typography on your site? This Arial font is such a turn off on the screen. As your print publication design folks can tell you, getting the layout design right is art and your print pub is very good, and readable, which is the main point. Your website needs the same quality, I must say. I like Fast Company website, for example. I know I know it takes a lot of work to overhaul the website but it'll be worth it :- ) Thanks!
My surprise is, I thought you had ALREADY gone all-digital! Used to read the paper version years ago. Wait. What's the date on the article? Nope, it's today's date alright. Not a nostalgic retrospective. How odd!
The electronic veriosn works just fine for me. And it's a lot easier to write comments when you've just read the article. I think the reader comments are immensely useful. I'd hate to go back to articles sans the EEs' comments.
Alex has it right up to a point: the old like print or digital text; the young less so and like the idea of video. I remember when building a helicopter surveillance sight that the combination of text, digital text and video was a good mix but the video was structured and focused on the really difficult to understand instructions.
I used to like ripping out interesting articles for future ref and still do. Can I suggest that you use an on-line format which allows the reader to download pdf versions by article? That would be really good because I'm not someone who wants to be connected to the web all the time - just when I need to be (good for security and when in places with poor wireless/3G/4G) so archiving on hard disc is my way to go. Comments?
Two comments and two questions: Convenience is on the side of online; the pdf route is an ongoing experiment. Have you seen EE Times Confidential?
Are you willing to pay for content in depth?
Like Bert, I haven't seen a print version for a looong time. Two things will make the e-version great:
- Availability of PDFs of articles, expecially those with any tutorial content - this could be improved
- a good search fucntion (which you already have in large part
In other words, this doesn't bother me a bit, but keep improving the online version.
20 years ago, riding on the Caltrain to San Francisco from Redwood City, I could look down from the top deck of the car I was sitting in and see dozens of people reading newspapers, magazines and books. 5 years ago I looked down and saw three people reading magazines and a dozen listening to music and podcasts on digital devices. Two years ago I saw no one reading anything. All content consumed was in the form of video.
12 years ago I started writing to clients that if they didn't get back on board with supporting an independent press with advertising they were going to lose their media. 6 years later I gave up trying to convince them and started writing a blog at how we needed to adjust our communications strategies to new media, including video, and start getting used to paying for our content or see it turn into regurgitated marcom copy.
I hate to say I told you so.
UBM has been one of the few media companies that has demonstrated a willingness to evolve.