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Rabu, 07 Januari 2009

Summarizing the Death Throes of 2008 Part. 2

by John C. Dvorak

People keep asking me to comment on the demise of the print edition of PC Magazine. Okay, I will. But note that PC Magazine is not the first or only example of the disappearance of the computer magazine. InfoWorld had already done it, and Computerworld is a laughable shell of itself.

And while everyone claims that "you can get information online nowadays," the fact is that the online experience is totally different. The writing is different, and the kind of information that can be displayed effectively is different. Both can easily exist side by side. But magazines cannot survive when advertisers have decided en masse that online is a better place to advertise, completely abandoning print.

When you combine this with the push to take what was a unique American industry and pretty much hand it over to Asia, because it's cheaper to do things over there, then pretty soon everything is done there. While this in itself isn't a bad thing, Asians as a whole have no interest in print magazine advertising. Culturally speaking, they aren't about selling more sizzle than steak. And while this is commendable on some cerebral levels, it creates a humdrum if not out-and-out depressing environment.

These changes removed a great public relations mechanism—the magazine—for promoting business in general. It cannot be recovered.

I don't see it as a coincidence that once the advertising support for computer magazines dried up, the fortunes of AMD, Intel, Seagate, even Dell and Microsoft began to wane—as did their stock prices. The horrible reputation of Vista can be directly attributed to this phenomenon. Once magazines lost their realistic and calming influence, reputations were at the mercy of the online mob, much of which, egged on by Apple, hated Microsoft.

In many ways things are just as exciting as they ever were, but you'd never know it, would you? Information is scattered every which way. When Chris Andersen developed the Internet Age notion of the long tail, he touched on this dissociation but failed to mention that this tail is no longer attached to a big fat animal. It's just a tail. And what's a tail without the animal? Dead.

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