Magazines: Life of the Month Club

Jarvis continues his nonstop examination of mass media, this zetetic installment – on magazines and their opportunity on the Internet:

And it starts here: The editor of a magazine finds the good stuff and the people who make it. That attracts the rest of us, who like the same good stuff they like. That has always been the essence of the magazine value and brand. But now the internet makes it possible for me to find the good stuff my fellow readers have found. [With print magazines] I couldn’t see the stuff my fellow readers liked. Now we can, thanks to the internet — if, that is, the magazine in the middle allows it.

Magazines mediate monthly assemblies with on average a 10MB print limit in the physical world. On the Internet the frequency of publishing is instantaneous and a monthly cycle is not meaningful. To put a magazine on the Internet is like making a motion picture of a painting. The feedback of the net is immediate and iterative. A magazine’s page or two of letters to the editor gives way to entire blogs, essays and the actual lives of readers in the infinite depth of the Internet. No publisher could print 500 GB of matter on even an annual basis and sell it on a stand.

Old media just assumed we were interested in what they told us to be interested in.

Remember those Napster nights when you downloaded the strangest songs on the planet? After a few nights of recovering obscure, ancient tunes you started looking at what other songs a person had on their drive. I would never have known this except for that network of fans. The principle values of the Internet lie in the audience and how its net works, first suggested by old media.

LIFE Magazine – the famous monthly catalog of stories told in pictures is today more like FLICKR where the real lives of everyone changes, at least worth a monthly browse. I load the array of interested flicks, but I wish FLICKR would have some PJ’s (photo jockey’s) who can thread the masses, a kind of Virgil who can guide various Dante’s through the rings.


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