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The Media

Shift Calls it Quits 176

MCS writes "Shift Magazine announced that it is closing down after 10 years. Biggest reason is that within this 10 year period they only turned profit on one issue. I remember at one point that they even had their own TV show -- the magazine was different then it competitors (Wired) as it focused more on the impact of technology and the social generation of those who lived in it. This can be seen in such issues as 'The Simpson Generation' and 'Seven Days without Tech'. Many of these articles are available online at their website "
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Shift Calls it Quits

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  • Why is it that all of the really well written indie mags (both online and on paper) are slowly dying off?
    • by dirkdidit ( 550955 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:53AM (#5351805) Homepage
      Because they don't appeal to the large amount of people. Most people now want to see magazines with beautiful women and the latest war that the US has gotten into. They don't care about how high-speed internet changed Joe Blow's life or about funny geeky cartoons. It sucks but its the way things go I guess.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Because they don't appeal to the large amount of people.

        I've never seen Shift, and it sounds like it was a pretty boring rag to begin with [and maybe deserved to die], but if they were trying to target a geek audience, they faced one big hurdle that is damned near insurmountable: People with really high IQs populate only the very far end of the bell curve, i.e., for all intents and purposes, PEOPLE WITH REALLY HIGH IQs DON'T EXIST!!!

        The overwhelming majority of people are of very average intelligence [clustered beneath the zenith of the bell curve], and are entertained by a very average quality of entertainment. The critical mass just isn't there to do much beyond that. [And besides, anyone who is smart enough to entertain really intelligent people ought to be doing something more productive with his life than masquerading as a glorified court jester.]

        • // [And besides, anyone who is smart enough to entertain really intelligent people ought to be doing something more productive with his life than masquerading as a glorified court jester.] //

          Yeah, they should be doing something really important like janitoring data for some moronic company that talks about TCO and ROI. Maybe they should be miserable shmoes like you. You are a really smart troll right ?

        • Poof! Hey, where'd I go?

          There's a market for entertaining smart people. It's a different market though, that plays to different rules. One could say "smart" rules, where the basic tenets that average people have devised for marketing simply don't work.

          That said, I think Shift was more aligned with what are termed Pseudo-Intellectuals, which is to say, people of average intelligence who think having gone to college made them smart. This is a broader, but oh so pickey market. Particularly among the young.

          10 years is actually a pretty good run among this crowd. Although Vanity Fair has managed a lot longer.

          As an aside, Court Jester is one of the grand jobs of the truely intelligent, one to which all aspire. It is thought of with awe and reverence. Those who can hold that job sucessfully for more than a year or two are demigods. I'm not making this up.

          But then, you'ld have to be smart enough to understand that. :)

      • ...glad to see that the Slashdot tradition of incredibly poor grammar and spelling is being upheld!
      • I have only read one issue of Shift, and that was some time ago, but I have to say I wasn't impressed. Remember in the late 90's how desperately people were trying to believe that the new cyber-lifestyle was the coolest shit ever? Well, that was Shift all over. I care about high speed internet and geeky cartoons, but I don't need to get it all wrapped up in "we want to be like the kids in Hackers" attitude. They didn't get my money twice.
    • Indie mags were always done by people who felt a need to say something with a desire higher then money. The capitalist mindset has always been at the forefront of the american people. And it has saturated us to the point even those who want to be "free-thinkers" want to get paid.
  • A Damn Shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazyLegs ( 257161 ) <> on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:44AM (#5351747) Homepage
    This has been a pretty fine magazine; albeit a bit hit-and-miss at times. Where Wired and its ilk focused on being the People magazine for a tech generation, Shift found a voice in showing the practical effects of technology on how most of us live. It's a damn shame....
  • No Wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:45AM (#5351748)
    I've never even heard of them...
    • I've never even heard of them...

      Haven't you ever heard the phrase, 'Quitters never win'? Well, they are just one of them. =P
    • Re:No Wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

      by someguyintoronto ( 415253 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @11:28AM (#5352477)
      This is because it's a Canadian publication, and unfortunately our publishing industry faces far too intense competition from our southern neighbour.

      Canadian magazines, books, etc not only have difficulty breaking into the states, but they can barely maintain recognition in Canada.

      The competition comes from southern cultural import (infestation) into Canada. Additionally, our population is too small and cannot support special interest magazines.

      Any Canadian publication, book, film, band, musician, actor, etc that makes it in the states generally succeeds, but unfortunately there is great talent just buried away and hidden in our igloos;)

      BTW, Shift was a well put together magazine (that threw good schmooze parties to boot;), that with American backing probably would have done very well. It's a shame to seem them go. Go look at their web site to see what they were all about.
      • Re:No Wonder (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by lamz ( 60321 )
        Oh please! If anything, Canadians are grossly over-represented in the U.S. media!

        I seem to remember a certain John Roberts, back when he was a long-hair who went by J.D. Roberts, spinning videos for City-TV. Now he's all: "Mister President, blah blah blah."

        Never mind Mike Myers, Jim Carey, Avril Lavigne, Michael J. Fox, Lorne Michaels, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Wayne Newton, Skinny Puppy, Rush, Sum 41, Pamela Anderson, etc. etc.

        If enough people liked Shift, it would still be around today. Save your sucking and whining for your mommy.
  • Hmm.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TitusC3v5 ( 608284 )
    This story seems kinda shifty to me...better go read the article... :-) I must be a youngster, since this is the first time I've heard of the magazine. Any long time subscribers wanna fill me in?
  • Shift? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:45AM (#5351753) Homepage Journal
    If I'd ever heard of it, I might have bought a copy.

    No, this isn't a troll. I can't say that I've ever seen this mag. I've never seen it referenced anywhere. I've just plain never heard of it.

    Sorry to hear they couldn't make it.

    • Me either. I would say I'm a reletively informed geek too. That is probobly why it went under, noone I know has ever even mentioned this mag.
    • I have never heard of it either. Never seen it - never seen anyone with one - etc...

      But I'm not really sorry to hear they couldn't make it. Not trolling here - I just think that most geek rags are a joke. 2600 is they way geeks communicate - not wired, or shift etc...

      I been doing this for almost 20 years. Magazines? I read car craft, rider, network computing, popular science, scientific america, and packet. Sometimes browse thru comp world, info week etc... But NEVER looked at a wired or the like - never. Geeks don't care about the social aspects of tech. They only want to know how it works and how to fix it when it breaks. These wannabe geek mags should just give it up or start doing something real...



      • If you didn't care about the social aspects of tech, you wouldn't be reading Slashdot or (especially) posting!

        Computer folks, like all specialists, possess their own culture. We do indeed like to read about it and discuss it.
    • Re:Shift? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tmark ( 230091 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:58AM (#5351823)
      You haven't heard of it because it's a Canadian magazine, which I doubt had much if any American circulation. I only know about it because I'm Canadian and would occasionally find a copy in a doctor's lobby or something. Even in Canada, the magazine was never as important or well-read as Wired, or Business 2.0, so why the closing of this magazine rates a story on Slashdot is beyond me.
    • I've seen this magazine only twice - in an airport. I believe it was London-Heathrow both times. Certainly wasn't in the States. Probably why they never turned a profit...

      Good airplane reading though. I would have bought more if I saw it anywhere.
  • by Iesu ( 12161 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:46AM (#5351760) Homepage
    Boy, I bet they love being Slashdotted, now that they're out of operating budget...
  • 'Shift' is "downshifting"... ? .....i know....lame
  • NOT the economy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:47AM (#5351766) Homepage

    Before anyone bleats that this is "the economy" just think for a second.

    10 YEARS and only ONE ISSUE turned a profit. This was a cash sink before .coms became standard, it failed to make a profit during the boom, it lost money in the dive, and it lost money at the bottom.

    Maybe the "sad" reason is really simple....

    Do you know anyone who _ever_ paid money for it ?
    • Mononoke's post combined with this one brings it all together-

      I've never even heard of this magazine...
      so no, I don't know anyone who paid for it. And without any recognition, how do they expect to sell?

      Seriously, I find it amazing that this magazine is being compared to wired- simply because even when I didn't want to I was constantly having wired shoved down my throat- a friend had it on his coffee table, some one sent me a link to one of their stories, I google William Gibson and I get his articles for wired.

      Good lord, how did they last 10 years!?
    • Do you know any one, of us, who've paid for /. How long before the slashdot effect fails into insolvency?
    • When they sold it in the US I used to buy it all the time, saddly they stopped selling it in US bookstores. I eventually got the nerve up to get a subscription which I had till recently. I didn't renew becuase of lack of funds. I feel it is very sad that this magazine folded, it was a very interesting and a good distraction from life. The articles dealt many aspects of modern culture, not just tech culture. The magazine will be missed, nothing else is like it.
    • by jfpoole ( 210439 )
      Do you know anyone who _ever_ paid money for it ?

      I did, every month or so. While Shift wasn't as popular as Wired, I always thought it was a better magazine (less hype, more meat). Plus the fact that it was Canadian was an added bonus (at least to a Canuck like me).

      That said, I'm not surprised they decided to call it quits. This has happened before (it disappeared from newsstands for a few months back in 2000, for example), and even lately it's been hard to find it at local bookstores.
    • i have/had a subscription.
      and they threw really kickass parties in Toronto.
      their website is still up -- check it out at []
  • Ctrl Daily and The Alt Reporter?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One of those things that is so obscure that no one knows it exists until its death is announced.

    You'd think they'd announce its death right when they STARTED publishing, so at least they would have some publicity during the time the magazine is actualyl on sale.
  • Another net mag closing its doors... where is micropayment that works and could help these alternative publications to survive?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2003 @09:55AM (#5351815)
    Could have been it's Canadian heritage. While Candian's are inundated with American media, it's a river that tends to flow only one way.

    While I was a huge fan of Shift from its inception, when it tried to branch off into the American market (1997?) I knew it was heading for hard times. It never took off in the States, and had too much investment to make it feasible in the smaller Canadian market. I for one think it's a terrible shame to see this thoughtful magazine lifted from shelves.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      > it's a river that tends to flow only one way.

      you know, as opposed to those rivers that flow both upstream and downstream...

      shift did kick ass though, up there with tokion, mondo2000, and vice. shame to see it go.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "different then it competitors". Wow. Even Taco hasn't managed that level of screw up yet.
  • Shift who? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by jonr ( 1130 )
    I'm sorry, but I dont recall ever have heard of this magazine, and I consider myself quite net savy.
    Maybe it is no wonder that it shut down?
  • by slothdog ( 3329 ) <> on Friday February 21, 2003 @10:04AM (#5351841) Homepage
    Who's the magazine that's smooth with the ladies? I'm only talkin' about...

    uh, what? Oh, sorry.
  • Blink. Blink. (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm sorry, but, focusing on the social impact of technology made them different? I thought that was the whole point of Wired!

    Of course, I stopped reading Wired years ago when I realized that I was apparently too old to appreciate the crazy page layouts they used.
    • Indeed - I had subscribed to Wired for about 6 years until it seemed like all the articles were about big business. I still look at the cover on the news-stand but never buy any more.

      • Actually, it wasn't strictly the "big business" articles in Wired that bothered me.

        For the first few years, I appreciated Wired magazine because it seemed like they explored new technology-related ideas in depth, often before they became realized in a commercial product. They also generally began featuring one really good interview with a C.E.O. or other "bigwig" of a tech-related company that produced products or services we all use. Unlike a Newsweek style interview, though, they'd ask the questions that the "geek crowd" really wanted to know the answers to.

        IMHO, Wired's big failing was getting caught up in "techno-lust", to the point where every overpriced gadget was featured - whether it had real value or not. They tried too hard to be "cool" with the techno-savvy crowd, and wasted too much effort on strange cover art and layouts, rather than dispensing useful information.

        With the dot-com boom, you could practically track Wired's downward spiral into the mess. Every month, they were telling me about some multi-thousand dollar new watch I "had to have", or some imported set of loudspeakers shaped like rare art that some Finnish or German engineer swore made music sound more "life-like" than anything else on the market. Whatever.....

        That's when I quit renewing or reading....
    • I stopped reading Wired right after the first issue I picked up. It was all advertisements and pandering to corporations disguised as a cyberpunk magazine.

      To this day I consider WIRED to be totally irrelevant.
    • I used to work for my university magazine. We had one guy doing layout for the whole magazine. The magazine always looked like awful, with weirdly aligned columns everywhere. Eventually it got to the point where we collectively asked the layout guy to leave.

      When we asked him why he made the magazine look so bad he said "But that's the way Wired does it. It must be cool".
    • I stopped reading Wired when they published an article (1999?) about how the Dow had broken the 10000 barrier and that people's quality of life was going to improve many-fold, and how famine would cease, and, and... It was essentially amazing that this article had ever goptten past editorial - it fantasy and speculation and almost offensive to anyone with the merest grasp of worlk events.

      Strange they covered the Dow breaking 10000 again the other way...

      Wired: The Magazine for Absolut Poseurs.
      • I always thought of Wired as a "digital culture" magazine, but its credibility was based on having at least some intelligent technology coverage (more application- than tech-centric), and by employing good writers (and influential people from the industry who could also write).

        When Conde Nast bought them, CN turned Wired into pure culture -- a pretty-pictures magazine like Conde Nast Traveler and all their other publications. They slimmed it down, changed to cheaper paper, and quit carrying intelligent commentary in favor of "this is the new cool thing, it costs $n,000 and can be bought at x." When Nicholas Negroponte quit writing his back-page column, I stopped buying Wired, and I've barely looked at it since.
  • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @10:06AM (#5351853)

    Doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

    3. The Slashdot Effect: Everyday netizens revolutionize newsgathering "Happens anytime Slashdot links to your site - "It's like getting hit with a tsunami," as a sysadmin once told us. When geek-news website Slashdot puts up a link to an interesting news item online, the rush of visitors can savage even the most heavily fortified servers -- producing millions of hits in a few hours. Stephen Adler's "The Slashdot Effect" paper, released in February 1999, found it caused ten-fold surges in traffic -- producing temporary, floating audiences that could rival CNN in size.

    Which is precisely the point. Slashdot's arrival in 1997 wasn't just another high-tech community; it was the future of newsgathering. With thousands of techies scouring the net for stories, Slashdot's volunteer base is bigger than any major media outlet-helping them regularly break news, such as Transmeta's super-secret Crusoe chip or Microsoft's anti-Linux memos. "

    Too bad they couldn't forsee their immienent doom.
  • by LordYUK ( 552359 ) <> on Friday February 21, 2003 @10:10AM (#5351885)
    But then how the fsck are we supposed to get to the '@' symbol?? The future of email is doomed!!!

    oh, wait, you meant the magazine that hardly anyone read because most of us didnt know it existed.

    In other news that doesnt change your life, shut down 7 years ago and I spilt some milk this morning.
    • But then how the fsck are we supposed to get to the '@' symbol?? The future of email is doomed!!!
      You could try Alt + 064
      Or switch your keyboard to some funny forign keyboard that has @ somewhere else.
      Hmm prehaps I took that question a little too seriously :)
  • (I believe it was Dilbert who said:)
    Shift happens...
  • I seem to have the ability to kill of magazines by getting subscriptions to them. I do not think that I ever personally had a subscription to a magazine that has not gone under. The last one was Revolution (I think), a cute techno slash hip-hop magazine that came with sampler cds. And now Shift. Either I am a carrier of the magazine plague, or I just like quirkier magazines.

    Shift was a faily good read, but it always felt like they were either trying to be like Wired, or trying not to be like Wired. It is too bad that they could not reach critical mass. I think they could have done some interesting things.

  • "I didn't see it coming at all," said a shocked associate editor Jose Lourenco. "Things were going great ... ad sales were picking up and we were planning ahead to expand certain things."

    But if you can't make a profit, then things aren't going great, you shouldn't be expanding, and you should foresee yourself out of a job.

    Perhaps 10 years of somehow avoiding death made them feel a bit too immortal.
  • I've never ever heard of this site and I consider myself pretty geek literate. How many others have never heard of it?
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @10:29AM (#5351989) Homepage Journal
    Shift was apparently a Canadian version of Wired. I couldn't tell from their website, of course, because it was already slashdotted, but the article about the failure and the comments so far seem to point in that direction.

    Of course, Wired's been a huge money sink for most of it's existence - and that's with the much larger US market to work with and bigger circulation numbers. Shift never seems to have made any real run south of the border, never was profitable, and appealed to a small segment of a small market in a small country.

    I think it's amazing they survived this long, quite frankly. It's been tough enough for media companies to thrive anyway, especially one as limited as they seem to have been. There's a number of Canadian magazines that I'm aware of - some I even read occasionally. I never heard of Shift, though. That may say a little something about what their chances were right there. But at 10 years, they predated the dotcom boom and bust alike. Not many other media properties would have been allowed to lose money that long.

    • NOTE: Posted on behalf of a Slashdot reader (but not a member).

      = = =

      SHI(f)T - An Inside History

      SHI(f)T started out as a make-work project for idle rich kids and a tax shelter for their parents.

      It began its life as a wannabe literary magazine for "young writers", accepting the rejects from respected literary magazines with a mandate to discover new writers and fiction and aiming to, "Kick in the teeth of the literary establishment." Instead the literary establishment kicked SHI(f)Ts teeth in so far that they were coming out the other end.

      Meeting no financial success, after 3 issues the magazine rebranded itself "the voice of an unsettled generation," still focusing on disaffected artists under 35.

      With losses mounting, a few issues later they changed the focus of the magazine to "New Media and Culture" writing about the new technology of CD-ROMs, wrapped up in Doug Coupland fever, Generation-X hype and breaking their ban on coverage of anyone over 35.

      With the magazine failing in its infancy and the parents of SHI(f)T's founders no longer willing to indefinitely pour unlimited funds into the fiscal black hole the project had become, the magazine looked south and decided to again relaunch and rebrand itself as Canada's version of Wired (that's actually how they promoted it). The magazine then boosted circulation by more than 500%, losing even more money, with an eye to being acquired based on high circulation numbers. The printing spree was funded by last-ditch investments from family and government artistic grants.

      The parents/investors used their business connections with entertainment lawyer Michael Levine (called the Michael Ovitz of Canada) and the president of one of Canada's oldest and largest publishers, Maclean-Hunter (which was looking for new properties aimed at young people) to engineer a minority investment stake, using Wired as a benchmark to value the magazine. Insiders reported that the magazine used false subscriber numbers that were at least double the real number to garner the deal.

      A year later the deal was dead, with Maclean-Hunter ceasing support for the still-floundering magazine.

      Enter white knight and multi-millionaire Richard Szalwinski, founder of digital film, video and animation software company Discreet Logic (now the Discreet division of CAD/CAM software giant Autodesk).

      With money to burn and a newly acquired publishing company looking for media properties, Szalwinski bought the magazine and made the founders instant millionaires.

      Internal politics went crazy and the new general manager of the magazine brought in by Szalwinski cleaned house, getting rid of the good (such as new editor Laas Turnbull) along with the bad. Among the ousted was the co-founder of the magazine.

      Szalwinski lost his shirt in a disastrous attempt to launch the magazine in the USA as a Wired competitor in 1999 and by this time, freelance contributors had not been paid for months. A year later, on the brink of bankruptcy, he sold the magazine back to co-founder Andrew Heintzman who financed it slashing the already-dismal salaries of employees by as much as 1/3 and asked them to pay into an employee ownership plan to help rescue the company. Most of the young, inexperienced, idealistic staffers agreed but some who didn't were laid off or fired "with cause." This still failed to buoy the sinking magazine's fortunes.

      Facing bankruptcy, the employees sold the magazine to MultiVision publishing who thought they could leverage the SHI(f)T brand to relaunch the magazine. The new SHI(f)T's redesign was unreadable and the "unified" look they created made it difficult to know what you were looking at when you flipped through it. They recently killed its columns, saying they were "too long" at 800 words, eliminating the only remaining compelling content since the columnists were knowledgeable. And now they have finally decided to put the tired publication out of its misery.

      Although some truly excellent writers have come through SHI(f)T, they were great in spite of it, not because of it. The majority were simply horrid. You can find some of both varieties around Slashdot (no names). The only thing that is sad about the death of this magazine is that a number of people who depended on it for part or all of their income will now be unemployed or scrambling to find some way of making up the sudden loss of revenue.

      The magazine was a horribly mismanaged ego-trip at almost every stage that could never really decide if it wanted to be an arts, entertainment or technology magazine, and was master of none of these domains. Even staffers and contributors made dismissive, derisive comments about the magazine, its direction and content throughout its life, but as long as they were being paid (and even if they were not) a paycheck is a paycheck.

      It proclaimed itself as Canadian but for the majority of its life it focused on American media, entertainment products and personalities, often almost indistinguishable from private label retail catalogs that masquerade as magazines.

      It was a pseudo-intellectual, vapid fanboy, hype-machine wank, that preyed on the greed and fed the egos of just about everyone they duped to invest in it.

      And, as we have seen time and again, the founders are laughing all the way to the bank.
  • Sorry, but I'm dancing on Shift magazine's grave. It stood for all of the bullshit artifice, me-too ass-kissing, and vacuous intellect that has plagued the technology/culture mag niche.

    Shift magazine never had a shining moment, save for the plastic wrapping.
    • As a former freelance contributor to Shift (the Sims "Big Mac Attacked" author), I am horribly pained by your comments :)

      As much as you think Shift was ass, it was the only decent mass-media outlet in Canada for exploration of digital culture issues. Shift had a long and rocky history, having nearly died at least once before, but the writers, editors, and artists behind it were dedicated, enthusiastic, and (debatably) insightful.

      The big question for me at this point is who will fill the void for a uniquely Canadian view on the intersection of culture and technology? We don't have half as many mags up here as in the U.S., and there really aren't any alternatives at this point. I'm not sold on dead-tree publications, so if there are some outstanding Canadian web-based mags out there, I'm all ears.
      • Firstly, allow me to take the foot off the pedal and say that I'm not taking pleasure in other people's unemployment (read: evil).

        Secondly, (re: "The big question for me at this point is who will fill the void for a uniquely Canadian view on the intersection of culture and technology?"), if there's a need, it will be filled. That's the nature of the marketplace (and no, I'm not one of those Ayn Rand-toting uber capitalists). One of the problems with Shift (imho) was that it actually wasn't very much of anything: not very deep, not convincingly stupid, not particularly Canadian. The good news (if you're still reading this, and I apologize if my opinion is a bit acidic...I've had too much coffee) is that society always gets what it wants. Dreams do come true; the problem is that the reality of our day-to-day wishes is less profound and exhalted than we'd like to think.
        • 'and no, I'm not one of those Ayn Rand-toting uber capitalists'

          I am. And Canadian too. The anti-MacDonalds Sims article is one of the goofiest things I've ever read. If you don't like MacDonalds, then don't eat there. End of story.

    • Are we still talking about Wired magazine?

  • it was inevitable (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    i saw this coming - any Canadian involved in publishing did. i worked for a magazine (called Vice) that was next to Shift as part of a dot com publication/shopping scenario that predictably flopped (started by the infamous Richard Szalwinski). at one time their marketing guy (nobody) was making $190, 000 U.S. - for a magazine that never turned a profit, that's not a recipe for profitability. even if they did smarten up later, they were over their head from the start. Vice, on the other hand, is now profitable and expanding due to their tight firsts when it comes to letting go of money.
    • Yeah, didn't Vice also defect from Montreal to NYC? They also made smart moves like opening the Vice store and their distribution model was different, it's free in your local hip Queen St. W record or clothing store. I'm sure your aware of this but I'm just pointing it out to others. I can say for certain but if Shift used those methods it would have been a different magazine.

      Oh, and an important point I'd like to make is just because a company doesn't turn a profit doesn't mean their product is without value. In fact if people find value in a product and it can't find a way to be profitable it outlines a problem with the system in general. Not that think Shift couldn't have been profitable but the circumstances are likely very complex.

  • by thedbp ( 443047 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @10:39AM (#5352066)
    print is dead. and not in the irrelevant way; its just not as viable anymore, especially with delivery mediums like the, ahem, internet cropping up everywhere.

    i am a print designer. i own TONS (if stacked and weighed) of LPs. I love the feel of magazines and books and the album jackets and small stapled indie mags ... there is a realness to it, an ingrained sense of accomplishment. something that humans have not yet developed for a sterile medium such as the internet. although we can recognize accomplishments in these new digital mediums, it has not yet garnered that "coziness" that makes people sit under reading lamps, excitedly turning pages in a worn out copy of The Dharma Bumbs. nobody who curls up next to a fireplace with an e-Book on your Palm can deny that it is a wholly different experience even though the text is identical.

    so there's the dilema. print has been made unreasonable in terms of cost vs. distribution capability - it is now a luxury, one supported by twice the contents' length in advertisements. but we just don't want to let print, in all its kinky and enticing forms, go.

    if you don't believe me, ask joe somebody whether they want a printed computer manual or a manual stored in the OS via Help, etc. Even though the digitized version would be easier to update, with audio and video descriptions or tutorials, a highly integrated/linked system, etc. - most average people will tell you they want a nice big indexed print copy.

    its going to be a while before this is bred out of us :)
    • Dont tell me you dont feel accomplishment after reading slahsdot. Please mod parent HERESY!!!
    • by Deacon Jones ( 572246 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @11:14AM (#5352381)
      While getting your main point, I think the "print is dead" just doesn't apply everywhere yet.

      Perhaps to tech news, which tends to update faster than the medium its on. But for me, and I'm 32, so take that as what you will, print will always be actually preferable for "longer" reads because of the fact that paper is easier on the eyes than a monitor.

      I don't care what your resolution is, how pretty your fonts are, and what theme(s) you are using, a monitor will tire your eyes out much quicker than reading a book.

      I'm sure this has to do with the fact that monitors project as opposed to reflect, but it makes a big difference to me.

      So I'm one of those guys who still prints out the "HOW-To's" not b/c I dont' know how to find or read the digital copy, but b/c my optical senses prefer the printed one.

      This is why we still have books, NYT bestsellers lists, and online booksellers.

      • I completely agree - I far prefer having a real, printed copy of what I'm reading. I guess I didn't make that clear enough, but it really does sadden me to see it starting to fade away; which eventually it will. natural resources will not be able to continually sustain that type of industry. maybe not anytime soon, but on a scale of infinity ...
    • If print is dead, where are all of the online magazines that are picking up the slack? Last I checked, there are *zero* profitable online magazines. Salon's the closest to profitable, but they're still very deep underwater.
  • crap, man! who's next - pop?
  • I guess that's why I haven't received any of my issues since I subscribed in November.
  • i posted this story when it broke on Tuesday or Wednesday, and it was rejected :(
  • Silent F (Score:3, Funny)

    by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @12:29PM (#5352922)
    I've read Shift on and off for its whole lifetime, an you know what? It just wasn't all that good.

    Plus... they frequently hired Jon Katz. I'm just putting that on the table. ;)

    Bye bye, Silent F. Hope the slashdot-spanking doesn't melt that last server.

  • I subscribed to this a couple years ago when they were saying it was the premier issue (I guess just a states version of it if it was primarily in canada). I even got a ski hat with their logo for subscribing. Anyhow, I got like two issues and then a notice they were ceasing publication. If I would have known they were still up and running in canada I would have hit them up for my money back! Apparently they just used us in the states for a quick cash infusion for the motherland. Anybody else have this happen to them?
  • Not ahead-of-the-curve enough to be groundbreaking, too trend-spotting for Joe Average. Articles about web sites/pop culture trends everyone in their target demographic had already known about for six months previously. Writers that were too fascinated with their own opinions. Not a lot of depth/analysis. Pretentious layout and cover design. Its death was inevitable, and long overdue. I hope the folks responsible are able to find success doing something more worthwhile, and that actually serves a purpose.

    (And I cant believe this warrants a Slashdot article, since I didn't think anyone outside of Canada had ever heard of the magazine!)
  • by lamz ( 60321 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:00PM (#5353151) Homepage Journal
    I have been a Shift subscriber for around 8 years -- almost since the very beginning. I have also hated the magazine all along. Why keep renewing and reading it? I guess the attraction was similar to other people's fascination with camp. I was continually fascinated by how bad the magazine was, and how adored it was by the left.

    If anyone has a pile of Shift magazines, flip through them and find how many times they complained about the fact that the Atari 2600 version of PacMan sucked. Seriously -- it's been covered more than once. The writing seemed to be stuck in some kind of time-loop, like they were always looking back to the 1980s from around 1994. And smug? Don't get me started.

    Anyway, I often mused about creating a parody publication called "Shitf", but now I guess I'll just let it go.
  • I actually remember the first time I had heard of Shift was about three years ago when they had an article on Michael Stipe and his film company. From then on I became an avid reader and follower of their site. I think it was well written and really diverse in their scope. I saw them at Comdex Toronto last year and should have pretty much known then. I wonder if anyone did a study on the profitablity of companies who attended Comdex in the last few years?
  • For some reason, my girlfriend received Shift for free for about 2 years. It was mildly entertaining, but rather like Wired Lite without any of the insight.

    They also suffered from the usual fate of an internet magazine- print's always half a year behind.
    • I'm sorry to be contrarian, but as a reader of both "Shift" and "Wired" (all the way back to issue #1), I couldn't help but laugh at your characterization of "Shift" as "like Wired Lite without any of the insight...".

      In the opinion of this random bloke, Shift would be more fairly characterized as Wired-sans-pretension-sans-narcissism-sans-technol ogy-diefication.

      In my opinion, Wired's steadfast embrace of the Whig view of history- that the new is inherently better than the old, was always it's Achilles heel.

      To wit, Shift never made so bold (and idiotic) a proclamation as Wired's infamous " Kiss Your Browser Goodbye! [] exhortation, which predicted the imminent death of the web browser and the pending future domination of luminary upstarts like "Pointcast" (dead), "Marimba" (seriously hurting), "Backweb" (reinvented).

      I'll miss Shift. And one day I'm sure I'll miss Wired, too, for very different reasons.
  • I liked the one issue I ever got. Then I think they dropped off my radar because they weren't available regularly and I quit looking. Too bad, I coulda been reading them all this time. I think their problem was lack of distribution and marketing. And to think, I've got the entire run of Wired in boxes in my closet.
  • I actually subscribed to Shift, but never received all the issues I paid for... no answer from several emails I sent to them. This was about 2 years ago -- I thought they had folded then.... The magazine (I thought) was similar to Wired, but with a different perspective... kind of along the lines of Mental Floss, which is another magazine that nobody seems to read....

I'm always looking for a new idea that will be more productive than its cost. -- David Rockefeller