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The Media

Are Computer Magazines Dead? 346

CitizenC writes "C|Net is currently running an article on why old school computer magazines like PC Magazine are dying rapidly.. it brought tears to my eyes reading this." Reminds me of Byte. I've never thought much of most computer magazines - they have too much stake in promoting the products of their advertisers to be believable. The floor is open for suggestions: what would make a good computer magazine to you?
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Are Computer Magazines Dead?

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  • I really don't feel anything can save old school mags. Well done web sites just offer too much interactivity and productivity to be bested by paper mags. Not to mention they are much more up to date.
  • They are out dated before the ink is dry
  • I'm really sick of magazines that are at least 50% advertising. Every once in a while I buy a magazine and rip out any of the pages with ads on both sides. It's amazing how much of those things is made up of their very thin content. How do they even survive?

    I remember the days when the table of contents was on the first page on the magazine, not page 6 or 7. Magazines will kill themselves unless they smarten up and increase the content to ad ratio.
  • THe german C't is imho the best computermagazine in the world. It comes out every two weeks, has extensive coverage of a broad range of computernews, including politics, new technology, hard and software reviews, tips and tricks, along a broad array of platforms, is quite objective, is quite critical of intel and microsoft but do not do microsoft/ intel bashing, but give critical reviews with argumentation instead, and will also point out the good things of a microsoft or intel product. Doesn't follow hypes blindly, has good practical sections and stay critical of products of companies that advertise in them.
    The only drawback for some: it's in german... for me that's no problem but for some it is. Well.. there's also a Dutch version..
    Besides, I like reading on paper better than on screen.
  • by JohnZed ( 20191 )
    I actually like Dr. Dobbs' Journal quite a bit. Sure, it's full of ads, but I like their ads. Occasionally spotty quality (and one or two VB-related pieces!) don't overwhelm the good stuff that's still there. --JRZ
  • Almost every magazine can fall victim to this. Magazines don't make their money from subscriptions or even newsstand sales, they make profits from advertising. We as readers need to be smart enough to tell when the writer is really being objective and when we're just being fed BS to sell advertising space.

    When a publication prints a report about a product that is heavily advertised, we must take it with a grain of salt - you've got to be a smart reader.

    Hey, what if there were a magazine that didn't accept advertising? Then everybody would take their reviews seriously! We could call it Consumer Reports. [/sarcasm]
  • That's what I say! Make Slashdot into a paper publication, and you've got yourself the best computer mag on the face of the planet!!!
  • My personal opinion on computer magazine is this:

    Computer magazines are dying because of two things.

    The first reason is that they lack content. Take Computer Shopper for instance. All but about 25 pages of their 200 page magazine (I am not sure of the exact length) were ads. I like to buy magazines for their quality content, not their ads. Now I understand that people sometimes get them because they are great catalogs, but there are more Dell computer ads in the magazine than there are pages of content.

    The second reason is that most of the information is avaible for free on the internet. I can easily find hundreds of reviews and articles on every topic imaginable for free. The content in magazines is usually a few weeks out of date, while content on the Internet is up-to-date.
  • I hate to say this, but I have yet to figure out how to read online magazines in the bathroom. I suppose dragging a laptop with a network cable might be an idea, but .....
  • The computer mag I read that comes to mind is Wired, which also has a lot of ads. However, most of them are pretty entertaining, so they usually don't bother me.
  • This trend reflects the changing times. As the Internet content becomes more important than the hardware itself, the magazines that focus on the computer hardware (and also PC software applications) diminish and disappear.

    Just as people tend to be concerned about the content on the television rather than the television itself, people are becoming more focused on the content of the internet rather than the hardware they use to access the internet.

  • Computer magazines are dead. I havent bought one in years. One of the main reasons is believability. How can one believe an article in a magazine is unbiased when the very subject in the artilce is paying for full page advertisements. Today PC magazines are full of ads, way more ads than content. If you want to find good unbiased reviews of software, hardware, new technologies explained just search the web. There are many good sites out there that are more relevant than paper magazines. Toms Hardware, Sharkey Extreme and ReviewFinder are what I use to keep up to date on the goings on in the PC industry. Besides, paper magazines are out of date months before they are printed since several months of lead time are needed to do editing, layouts and the printing. SAVE A TREE...Boycott paper PC magazines.
  • I think computer magazines are dead and have been for a while. The Internet makes it practical for a site to target a narrow audience, but a magazine has to be readable by a large audience to be profitable.

    Slashdot is the new computer magazine. It filters out all the news I don't want, advertising isn't intrusive, and I can read what other people think after I've read an article.

    I wonder how long it will be until all magazines become sites like Slashdot? I wouldn't count on Crochet Monthly becoming a Slashdot-type site for a while, but it definitely might be that way someday.

    BTW, has any more thought been given to the Slashdot Magazine? I'm not sure that I'd buy it, but then again, I sure could use some News for Nerds while I'm sitting on the can.

  • Are we all supposed to write on the magazine and pass it around to eachother?
    --
    Joshua C. Stein
    Superblock Information Systems
  • I haven't read paper computer magazines ever since I got a web connection. I have no use for dead paper periodicals, especially when the information in them is consistently more than a month older than what I'm reading online.

    In fact, when the telemarketers from assorted magazines and newpapers bug me I just tell them that I don't read paper printed materials these days: I get all my periodicals online. I'd like to say that Slashdot is responsible for my change of habit, but it was the Macintosh rumor sites that really broke my addiction.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Sunday November 21, 1999 @03:02PM (#1513993) Homepage Journal
    Is the bundled CD. I'd spend the money to get demos of things on CD that I don't want to spend 4 hours d/ling. I got a copy of MacWorld once just to get the copy of the BeOS that came with it.

    I buy PC mags now just to get demos/patches and whatnot that I don't want to spend the time to d/l.

    However this goes out the window when I can get phat-pipe bandwidth.

    LK
  • First: Miller Freeman bought almost all the PC programming magazines in the mid '90s (Dr Dobbs, Computer Language, C Users Journal, etc) then jacked up the advertising rates ... many of the small shops (including mine) fled over time, and the circulation numbers became stagnet.

    Second: Along came the net, and net based 'Zines (including BluesNews, Slashdot, you name it) which made a traditional magazine, with a two month publication leadtime, dead meat.

    So, there you have it. A POX on Miller Freeman's house, who screwed up the deal initially by being greedy - that's what really started the downward trend in software development mags.

    Now - a question for the Slashdot hordes: what's your favorite development news website? Enquiring minds want to know!
  • Has Computer Shopper reduced its size since I last saw it? I used to grab a copy now and then, and it was at least 900 pages long, as big as a copy of the Wall Street Journal and five times thicker. Probably 90 to 95% of it was ads. I thought that was the whole point though... all sorts of small-ish shops put their listings in there, and I could search through it and find what I was after almost all of the time.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday November 21, 1999 @03:04PM (#1513996)
    I love it. Back when the presses were invented, pundits predicted only the rich would ever have books. Ah, that was wrong. Then they predicted newspapers would never take off. Eh, wrong there. Then telephones came out. Who'd ever use such an erry device? All it's good for is listening to organ music! Whups... AT&T didn't listen to them, and look what happened. Oh yeah, then you have the phonograph, where you could *record* and *play back* music! Wow.. that would never catch on either. Funny how popular the old vinyl 72 rpm's got, eh? Then you had the 8-Track. Well, they were right about that - 8-tracks sucked. Virtually every invention they said was going to die... gee... they're still here. I can go down to the end of my block and find a newspaper. Go across the street to Disc-o-round, and I got my vinyl. Down the road a few miles to Best Buy (shudder), and I have CDs.. which were only a "temporary" technology, right?

    Eh, as you can see, history is replete with people proclaiming the end of X technology...which then promptly goes on to become insanely popular. Windows is the exception - it sucked from the beginning, and it's *still* popular. Eh, the general rule holds true however... newspapers are in no danger of vanishing for the same reason people prefer having a nice book to curl up with in bed instead of a CRT monitor to read the latest O'Reilly book. Which, btw, I have tried curling up with a CRT. While it's a very nice way to keep warm during these minnesota winters.. it's alittle difficult to keep them from falling out of bed and throwing shrapnel all over the place. Eh.. it was only a 14" though. =)

    Yes.. eventually all of these technologies will be phased out. However, as you can see this won't be happening with any rate of speed. Don't think that just because time runs at 20x normal speed (Unless your upstream provider is AT&T *rimshot*) online it does so in the offline world as well!


    --
  • As a journalist working on an IT publication in New Zealand I have to tell you that we seriously don't care what ads are in the paper - in fact, as I write each story, I have no idea who or what is being advertised. We have a strict policy that editorial and advertising just don't mingle. Once in a while we get someone ring up asking to submit "editorial copy" and they are firmly set straight. You can buy an ad if that's what you want, but editorial content is written by the journalists and no-one else. If you have any blurring of the lines as you've all pointed out, your readers hate you for it. There's no such thing as being a little big compromised - that's like being a little bit pregnant.
  • by maya ( 90492 ) on Sunday November 21, 1999 @03:04PM (#1513999) Homepage
    You've nailed the problem: any communications channel supported by advertising owes more to any individual advertiser than to any individual reader and more to its advertisers as a group than to its readers. Every choice made by the editors and publishers of an advertising-supported medium is suspect - the choice of what topics to cover, what writers to hire, how and how much to slant content. So it follows logically that a magazine supported by its readers would be more trustworthy than one supported by advertising. But we're a long way from figuring out how to do that. A lot of events - not only in the world of computers - are leading to the notion that we need a new model of funding journalism. Perhaps we could put some pressure on corporations and a few internet millionaires to endow journalistic media; a magazine with an endowment of a few million dollars could charge a modest amount for print copies and publish free online versions without having to accept advertising. Perhaps it could run an annual fund-raising drive, like public broadcasting stations do, to beef up its operating budget. A modestly endowed journal could pay reporters and editors well, and we could look to the internet, and especially open source software efforts, for models of how such an endowed enterprise might be effectively governed.
  • While there are still places you can read magazines where you can't get web access, I think the printed page has a long future ahead of it. I also disagree with the corollary that all printed magazines have a duty to pander to their advertisers. Any kind of publication that relies on revenue from advertisers will be subject to the same problem (and I'm not convinced it is a problem given the number of adverts you get in Computer Shopper). It's just that reading an article on the web, with the ease one can jump to a similar review on another site, makes bias readily apparent and easily spottable. It's not so easy on a train, but then I like to think I'm not so stupid as to believe everything I read :-)

    Admittedly I don't know the economics of it, but I reckon that top journalists get paid top rates, and if the people churning out their articles on dead trees are paying more, well, that's where the good journalists are going to go.
  • But.. What will happen to the slashdot effect? Thousands of geeks running down newsstands? :)

    Slashdot thrives on constant updates and its comments. No way to duplicate that in print, unless you want to print out LAST weeks slashdot...


    i dont display scores, and my threshhold is -1. post accordingly.
  • Wireless networking, and a laptop. Can you download stuff to a palm & read it like that? I don't know, I dont have a Palm (yet).


    i dont display scores, and my threshhold is -1. post accordingly.
  • I used to work for Byte Magazine. Many years ago. I even worked on BIX for a short while. I have all of 1978 in hardcover. I look at those magazines sometimes and what sets them appart from all of the magazines that cover the industry now is that they still engender excitement. Byte magazine went "commercial" in the early 90's when they changed the editorial staff due to declining sales. That staff changed the focus from computers to the business of computers. Magazines today are produced, edited and written by people interested in Business and not Computers for the most part. The ones that do actually focus on technology instead of profit have marginal sales (Dr. Dobb's is an excellent example of a mag. written by geeks for geeks.) Now that online sources of the same business data exist, why bother with the paper magazine? Also, I can read a hell of a lot more interesting stuff online than what usually fills the mags. I think I probably find only 1 article per week that is interesting in PC Week. YMMV, of course. The rest are pretty much drek. Even when they try to get technical they tend to botch it. So, don't weep too many tears. Online is probably a better way to publish anyway and kills fewer trees (assuming your electricity is coming from hydroelectric or solar power and not coal or oil!) --Pete
  • SJVN ( Easily the MOST cluefull editor over at ZdNet ) did a story about Linux for the print edition of Smart Reseller. As is the praxes the story was posted online as soon as the magazine hit the news stands.

    He made several points about what's right and wrong with Linux. 2 of his most important points however were only correct 2 months ago ( when he wrote the story ) but not at the time they were published. As the Internet lets us see more of this happening paper magazines will become less valuable as a source of leading edge information ( the old usage ) and more as a nice package of important things you may need to know even a year or more after buying it.

    This means less of the "And company A is negotiating to buy company B" type story. If it hasn't happened by the time it hits print then there was probably something wrong with the source. Expect more of the "And this is how you configure DNS on *BSD or make the Easter Egg in the current version of wince come up".

    These are interesting times in deed.

    We can't ask print mags to start going through the whole compile -> edit -> revise -> print cycle as fast as web mags. Rob can fix a typo on the slashdot main page after only 50 or so people have seen it. A Paper mag doesn't have that option and must print a retraction the next month. Embarrassment before your entire audience 2 times in 30 days :)

  • I used to buy Mags religiously, especially PC Magazine when I was a Windows user. But a some time ago I realized I could get all the commentary I needed right here on slashdot and the product reviews at variuous other sites on the web. What with reloading ./ every 5 minutes who has time for those mags anyway?:-)

    Now I don't buy normal magazines either (GQ, Vanity Fair etc.) Too expensive, no time and I am already saturated with infomation from other sources. I only buy the Washington Post, and text books now basically. Of course I can read the Post on the web, but it just doesn't feel as natural and its only 25 cents at the corner.

    Well, the less paper the better I say.

  • A /. magazine would be a complete waste of time. The stuff I like about /. is:
    -keeps me up to date. I check the homepage probably ten times a day. A print version would be much slower.
    -has interesting comments here and there. These would not be available in a print version
    -it's searchable. This is a _huge_ plus.

    None of these things are options in a print magazine.

    What I really really need is a basic terminal that I can carry around. Let's say a 14" LCD flatpanel, plus a pointing device (maybe like the eraser-mouse-plus-buttons on an IBM thinkpad). It should have a port to connect a keyboard, or perhaps it should have a tiny keyboard (or handwriting recognition?) included.

    Note that I don't want it to be smart at all. Basically, I want a portable X terminal. That would rock. It would of course need to be wirelessly connected to my desktop machine.

    If one of these was currently available, I'd buy it.
  • That actually might not be such a bad idea. I dunno if there'd be a profit, but it still isn't a bad idea :)

  • just a side comment, but the only reason I've bought a magazine lately is just for what ever is on the coverdisk. (Last time one had windows StarOffice 5.2a on it). It's been years since I've bought a mag for the articles...

    <OFFTOPIC>
    What I would like to see everything that has appeared on Freshmeat in the last week stuck on a CDROM and sold at my local newsagent each week. I would buy that.
    </OFFTOPIC>

    --
    Simon.
  • I was wrong, the December '99 issue is 408 pages long.
  • ... and some have died, and some have come out stronger than ever. When CNN began 24 hour news coverage and a majority of consumers moved to TV as their prime source of news, people crowed over the impending death of newspapers.

    Sure, some died.

    But some others have remained essential reading - even on a site like /., there's about a story a day from the venerable New York Times. And I personally read Time and the New Yorker (and I'd buy The Economist if a grad student budget could accomodate that...)

    The reason is simple - commentary. Yes, shit happens, but to tell us what that means - or to at least give us one interpretation of what it means - requires more than a CNN sound bite will ever provide.

    Even when you disagree with the interpretation - I regularly disagree with The Economist's ultra-conservative ideas - it makes you think. I happen to believe that there's no substitute for that.

    Drawing the analogy to computer publications is obvious enough to be left as an exercise to the reader... :-)

  • Friends and relatives continue to buy me subscriptions to PC Magazine, which has become bathroom-reading material in the wake of the Web.

    Sadder still: with all of the ads in it, it's only good for about one sitting.
  • I disagree with the idea that magazines have *not* adapted. On the one hand the article bitches that print media is too slow a medium, on the other that computer magazines have begun to fade away - being replaced by the likes of CNet and ZDNet. *DING* Give the woman a cookie. a) I think this article addresses issues raised concerning influence on print media by sponsors. Notice that she plugs CNet and gives slight notice to ZDNet? They ain't the only ones... I see no reason why CNet is any different from PC Computing in terms of sponsor pressure. b) It seems that even CNet is behind the times - because in my opinion CNet is a electronic form of a magazine. ZDNet clearly is - this is the new PC Magazine! They have changed (a little). The real future may be in audience targeted "e-zines" such as Slashdot. Maybe not, but certainly not the "I wish i was in print but i'm on the web" attitude of CNet. Use the media or lose the customers. I see that magazines have been shifting to the web. And clearly as they shift their core readers there they make up new markets for the old paper copy. PC Computing chooses to target suits not yet comfortable with getting news online. Good for them! Maybe they can knock some sense in... (then again, maybe not).
  • Avangto [avantgo.com] will suck down a web site for you, and put it into a format that can be stored on your Pilot and read offline. True, a lot of web sites really don't work well on a Pilot's screen, but many do. Some, such as Wired News and C|NET have special version for Avantgo. I believe there is a FAQ on Slashdot on how to make your story preferences Avantgo friendly.

    At work, I always toss the Pilot in the cradle and hotsynch before a potty break. I can read up on stuff... or just play a game if there's nothing to read.

    'course, it's Windows only. I suspect that there's a similar thing out that will download websites and translate them into doc format. If not... there should be. Hmm... sounds like a job for Perl :)

  • I used to have a subscription to Computer Shopper when it was at it's peak. Had to stop because it actually broke my mailbox. Nowadays it's 1/4 the size and I never buy it - the Internet has everything you could want.

  • To me, it seems that sites like Slashdot, Ars Technica, and Tom's Hardware are fulfilling the origional purpose most of these "big" computer magazines had in the begining, informing the community, carefully reviewing products/books/ideas, building consensus, etc. Most of the big mags lost track of that and became the playthings of their advertisers. This isn't to say that Slashdot couldn't do the same thing but there will always be the oportunity for others to keep their fingers on the pulse of the true community of computer users/enthusiasts, especailly as Startup costs for a web site are minimal compared with a print Mag.
    Like others, I like DDJ (makes me feel smart when I read it and understand a good part of it ;-)) but sites like this one are really important for keeping a community pulling in somewhat the same direction.
  • Computer Mags will go the way of the dinosaur. *sigh*

    I too used to anxiously await the new months issue of several
    computer magazines. These days I'm just dissappointed in the content. *shrug*

    The main turn off for me is that over 90% of them are geared
    towards people who don't know jack about computers.


    Computer magazines have been the same for years and years
    and years and years. Someone needs to come up with an
    entirely new format. What this would be I have no idea... *shrug*
    but as things stand now, I don't see a whole lot of them being in business in the next 10 years.
    (hell, even 5 years)

    What I WOULD like to see are E-print E-Zines. Someone
    mentioned that it's kinda hard to drag the laptop or desktop
    into the bathroom... I understand how they feel.
    AND... Given an E-Print reader, one could download the magazine (from a secure site for a fee??) and
    have it easily transportable. That would actually be nice.

    This method would also allow them to make updated
    news available constantly. Now if you can just figure
    out a wireless update method... (neat) you could have
    updated news all the time. (leave some way to seperate
    the news you haven't read from the updated, eh?)

    Just my take

  • I can get all of the information that I want about computers, the net, and geek culture on the web. No problem...when I'm connected to a computer. Still, there are places where I'm not able to get to a computer or where I don't want to bring one. Such a place exists in my home--it is primarily covered with ceramic tile and has at least one large ceramic fixture.

    The solution, and the final death knell for print magazines in my home, will be the web pad. I've been dreaming of one of these since 2001: A Space Oddyssey. I know that I could get mail on a PalmPilot or some other palm-top computer, but I want a bigger screen. I'm thinking of something like a CrossPad but with a screen instead of a paper pad.

    As for magazines--do you think that there is any way for magazines do do what Slashdot does? This is the excitement of the new media--it's more about discussion and exchange of ideas than it is aobut simply reading content. A web pad would allow that and it would allow for me to be anywhere I want, near or far from an outlet, and without the pain of having to boot up.

    So, all this stuff will be around by 2001, right? And I'll be able to take a PanAm flight up to the orbiting space station whenever I feel like it, right?

    Daisy, daisy....
  • That's the point, people buy that for the advertising. It's a catalog of smaller resellers. The few non add pages are just filler.

    Here in Canada we have a series of newspapers (Computer Paper, Vancouver|Toronto|Whatever Computes, et all) which offer cheap advertising for the little hole in the wall computer shops. The articles are garbage, the writers don't know the meaning of "research", but thier advertisers have the cheapest prices on parts, so I pick them up.
    Cheers,

    Rick Kirkland
  • I've never thought much of most computer magazines - they have too much stake in promoting the products of their advertisers to be believable.

    This pisses me off. How can anyone be so stupid to think that we actually go: "Hey, this product sucks, but i'll give it an 8 out of 10, just because they advertise in our magazine!" I consider most paper magazines a lot more trustworthy than /. Ok, i know there are some rather cluless writers, but they are at least trying to be as objective as possible.

    On the subject, the web isn't going to kill paper magazines anytime soon. Most of the magazines i write for has increased sales as the web has become more popular. And not everything is out of date when it's printed, e.g. how-to articles, interviews etc. Most people prefer to read printed text over a screen, and for a good reason too.
  • by redled ( 10595 )
    Sure, computer magazines had thier place. But now, besides the fact that it is hard to find an unbiased magazine (that is, one that is not partial to its advertisers' products) magazines are computer simply becoming too slow for the fast paced industry. With a plethora of new products and breaking news coming out every day, a monthly or bi-weekly magazine just doesn't have room to cover everything. It is not feasable to print a bible-sized magazine every two weeks. The internet has become a much more promisinbg medium for this kind of material, because it is instant, meaning you get news now, not in a few weeks when print time comes, and it is much easier to find information that is interesting to you, then ignore anything else. Simply go to a news site, look for headlines that sound interesting, and read the articles. Or, if you like, use a search engine to find information that's relevant to you. No flipping through pages of crap to get to the good stuff, and usually less advertisments to boot. Not to mention that some sites (like slashdot) allow you to discuss the articles and stories with other readers from around the world. Not to mention that most sites don't require you to pay them to read. No, I can't say that I'll be missing computer magazines much.

    --

  • Magazines, especially those that purport to give unbiased information but in reality bow down to the advertiser dollars (pick any Ziff-Davis zine), are especially vulnerable today when anyone can utilize a search engine or peruse usenet postings to get the real scoop.

    Just because information is found on the web doesn't mean that it's better, though. Just take a look at those rigged Linux vs Windows security tests that were put out months ago. I forget the particular magazine but the bonehead who wrote up the stories neglected to apply requisite security patches to his Redhat box because they were too numerous and were not found in a standard place. His boss had been on the hotseat for similar incidents in the past. Once the unfairness of the testing was pointed out by the vociferous linux community, they were forced to rerun the tests.

    If you are in the business of providing content, you better make sure come correct or your audience will move on.
  • Shopper has really lost it. I subscribed just to get at the ads and the one or two articles. Now, suddenly it's half the size and not of much use to me. They seem to be trying to tie into the web, but it's tough to see how this works. They put in hyperlinks, but it's so tough to get my mouse to click on them. It's one subscription I won't be renewing.
  • >Eh, as you can see, history is replete with
    >people proclaiming the end of X
    >technology...which then
    >promptly goes on to become insanely popular.

    Don't forget that this is probably coming
    from the same people who were writing "Unix is
    dead" about two years ago. Don't remember
    C|Net, but I *do* remember that phrase appearing
    in PeeCeeWeek.
  • Am I the only old fart who remembers when BYTE had schematics in it?

    Now that was a computer magazine.


    there are 3 kinds of people:
    * those who can count

  • I just flipped through the current issue of Computer Shopper, and I foudn that there were about 80 pages of content. When I say 80 pages, this includes all those lame pages about shopping websites, which really are information for beginners.
  • The only thing self-serving here is CNET. It's interesting this woman writes that:

    "I should point out that CNET and other online sites won out by being able to snap up some top IDG editors..."

    Won out? This from a company that lost $1.4 million in the nine months ending 9.30.1999? Give me a break.

    And at least PC Magazine doesn't run those stupid TV ads I see CNET has all over the tube these days (whoever came up with that campaign theme should get fired).

    PC Magazines will survive and thrive. For non-technical users -- i.e. the business folks who got all the scorn, such magazines will always be important. There is still no web site out there that provides easy to digest recommendations about the latest software/hardware for non-Geeks. My mother is not going to read Slashdot or even try to wade through CNet's byzantine navigation to get a printer recommendation when she can go buy any number of PC magazine's annual printer roundup.

    Plus, is it just me or are CNET reviews on the extremely short side of things? Most PC Magazines do a pretty good job of answering the questions I have, while CNET usually leaves me asking for more. For example, go look at their pathetic reviews of 3d cards. Usually you get maybe one or two benchmarks vs. one or two competing cards with a 100-125 word review tops. Oh thanks, that was really helpful.

    In summary, non-geeks will still need pc magazines, geeks will go to sites like Slashdot, Ars Technica and storage review, and I'm still trying to figure out who the target market is for CNET.
  • Why do the bad ones suck...
    well to put it in the words of PC/Computing
    "Computers in the language of business"
    Exactly, they weren't written for us, we aren't the target, the targets are their peers, people looking for what to invest in...sheep basically...
    The closest mainstream magazines i'll even touch...
    1)C'T but its in german...
    2)remember Boot?
    -i loved that mag...but they grew and are a little more business than computer mag now...
    they have changed to #3 after acquiring home pc's resources
    3)Maximum PC...pretty good... but their staff is no more knowledgible than I or any other slashdot reader...
    4)anything ZD sucks. period. I won't read that trash. They gave linux a D for stability and a D for performance...that isn't why i read it, but the fact that they didn't back any of that up, those are arbitrary, that makes me angry, they probably didn't even setup linux, they just printed it because they knew that linux is now a buzzword...
    Now i'm pissed, can't think while pissed...
  • This is C|Net tooting its own horn. Yes, IDG has stumbled in the last few years, with a bad web strategy and a tendency to make wild, random changes to its strategy.

    But how about Ziff-Davis? ZDNet is a very successful web venture, and very competitive with C|Net. And their editorial content remains much, much deeper in both quantity and quality.

    Yeah, something like Computer Shopper is an anachronism, what with most hardware geeks now shopping online. But the likes of PC, Infoworld and PC Week, among others, will continue to flourish until full-color e-books become pleasant to read on a commuter train, or over a meal in a cramped luncheonette, or on the toilet. After all, most computer magazines are really sublimated pornography [hatless.com].

    So yeah, they're doomed, and they'll eventually be the first genre to go all-e-book, but there are a few good years left, and it will only happen when e-book interfaces (and readability, and dot pitch) are better than a vintage-1999 "web browser".

    And on another note, Byte collapsed because they changed into an enterprise computing magazine. 10,000 CTOs do not a viable newsstand magazine circulation base make. Their original formula--voracious eclecticism--was poised for a comeback thanks to the open-source revolution, and the editors and publishers didn't see it. The computing world was once again ready for its original mix of hardware projects, programming theory, treatises on chip fabrication techniques, code snippets and stringent product evaluations. If Linux Journal were any good at what it tries to do, it would be very much like the old Byte. Instead, they've got some high school intern reviewing Oracle 8i on the basis of how easily it installs and how easy it was to set up a 3-table CD-catalogger. And worse.

    Apart from Pournelle's column, the magazine that shut down some time back was Byte only in name.
  • ...however I guess the place has changed over time.

    I - and my friends (And I guess most /.'ers) used to buy magazines for two things: technical articles/reviews and updated info on new products.

    Now, such information is more available on the WWW than in printed form. It's more updated, easier to access etc. And in the /.-form, one is even no longer bound by the magazine/reporter/editor's potentially biased point of view.

    Another issue is, that while the popularity of computers have spread, the magazines have much more people to appeal to. Not only techies, but also the techies kids, parents, grandparents - and (ohh boy) PHB's. Thus often - at least from what I have sean - the depth is sacrificed in favour of broader appeal.

    There are very few magazines out there - be that the general magazines such as Byte, PC-Magazine as well as Linux-specific magazines - which appeal to real techies. All tend to focus on what I believe is the largest segment of the market: home computer users and management/IS-dept guys.

    I guess that the magazines will continiue living - to a PHB, the phrase "...but says that...." will almost always be better accepted than "....Anonymous Coward writes on slashdot that...". And to the home computer users.

    However there are always exceptions, of course. IEEE Computer Society [computer.org] and ACM provide excellent publications with a high-tech content. Of course mostly research-based, but still.....however they also come as electronic magazines nowadays....

    Ohh......apologies if this came out partially in a previous posting. Netscape blew up in my face while copy-pasting (cannot wait for mozilla...)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    [OFFTOPIC]
    What I would like to see everything that has appeared on Freshmeat in the last week stuck on a CDROM and sold at my local newsagent each week. I would buy that.
    [/OFFTOPIC]

    That would be absurdly cool. Freshmeat is owned by Andover, right...would some sort of small-scale print /. digest w/ a freshmeat disc on the front be possible? I'd buy something like that...
  • The reason I don't buy PC World, or any of those mags is usually because looking at the front cover, it seems that it's filled with articles about stuff I already know about... that they're made for "newbies"

    Another reason is that even the most interesting of articles seems to take a real "media" approach to stories... for example.. if there was an article on mp3s. It wouldn't just speak in geek terms. I want a mag thats full of techno babble and written by geeks that doesnt take such a media view on issues. I'd rather read something I can relate to than something objective.

    Shift [shift.com] is an excellent mag. It's made by our generation.. for our generation. This is the one I spend my money on. Not sure if ya americans have the privalege or not but if it's on your stands, give it a try.
  • ``I've never thought much of most computer magazines - they have too much stake in promoting the products of their advertisers to be believable.''

    But it doesn't have to be that way and, at one time, it wasn't that way.

    Anyone around when microcomputers were new stuff can remember Creative Computing, the original Byte, and once the IBM PC came out, magazines like IBM PC Technical Journal (or was it just Tech Journal. It was always great looking forward to a new Don Lancaster or Steve Ciarcia article for new hardware ideas or some nifty assembly code tricks in ``Some Assembly Required'' (I can't remember now; was that column in IBMPCTJ?).

    Once I moved into larger systems, the newspaper sized magazines like Digital Review were staples of your tech reading. It had great multipart articles on tuning VMS I/O performance, and stuff like that. Product reviews were geared toward those with a technical bent with real benchmarks (not puff pieces sponsored by vendors).

    Then the technical magazines started insisting that there was a good reason for abandoning their newsprint publications in favor of the glossy paper versions. Instead of continuing their original mission of providing a place for the dissemination of technical information for the people involved in IT, they seemed to turn into vehicles for graphics artists and magazine layout designers to try and win design awards. Enter the age of content-free but visually exciting magazines. Here's a clue for the publishers: It's the content stupid! We're not interested in eye candy. Technical magazines aren't supposed to look like Vogue.

    Also, for those of us who were attempting to be somewhat ``green'', this was disturbing because, for a long time, glossy paper magazines wouldn't be accepted for recycling. Even more troubling was that the format of the magazine always changed to more of an advertising rag than a magazine targeted for the technical person (that was, after all, the real reason for the shift to glossy paper -- increased advertising revenues are possible if the ads look fancier).

    Now the ones that are left are, by and large, nothing more than product reviews targetted for non-technical management. Heck, the advertisements are so outdated that they're less than worthless. (The vast majority of the ads are all selling the same products but can't even publish actual prices, instead urging you to ``Call!!!'')

    I can't even bring myself to read PC Magazine at the public library anymore let alone buy an issue.

  • by belswick ( 88287 ) on Sunday November 21, 1999 @03:25PM (#1514040)
    So far, the Internet has not developed a charge model that supports a meta-magazine for techies that can afford to pay its authors. This will come, but for now there is a publication where you can read 3 years of 30 magazines, including Dr. Dobbs, C User's Journal, Sys Admin, Unix Review, MSJ, etc. on a CD-ROM. Unfortunately, this doesn't carry any Linux-specific mags yet, but it saves trees and is searchable. It's called Developer Source, and more info is available at the publisher's site [i-mode.com].

    Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with these guys, just a subscriber.

  • The reason I buy a magazine is to either be entertained, or to learn something. Computer magazines are generally bought for the latter reason. Most computer magazines being sold to day are just advertising tarted up with 'content' designed to work up enthusiasm for the stuff being advertised.

    Right now the only computer magazine I subscribe to is the Perl Journal. Computer magazines with real content like the Prel Journal are what I would be attracted to.

    Personally I just don't see that there will be any mass computer magazines three years from now. Everyone is putting their advertising money on to the internet. Stacks of dead trees have to be a very inefficient way of delivering advertising to an audience that is wired.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    that computer magazines are dying. I'd love to see how Linux Journal's circulation has grown.

    I don't see the Web killing off magazines. It may change their style a bit...but it won't kill them. Magazines were trying to be too up-to-date anyway with the product of the month. What they forgot about was the indepth articles on how to use these machines...good solid advice.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    that computer magazines are dying. I'd love to see how Linux Journal's circulation has grown.

    I don't see the Web killing off magazines. It may change their style a bit...but it won't kill them. Magazines were trying to be too up-to-date anyway with the product of the month. What they forgot about was the indepth articles on how to use these machines...good solid advice.

    Of course, when you're used to reprinting someone's press releases (and don't know anything) you might think the sky is falling...but don't worry. It's just you.

  • So I could take my X-Tablet (9"x12" would be about the right size, use touch-screen to do the pointer bit and the handwriting-recognition) in the sunny window, to the catbox, even out in the yard with the squirrels.

    Then just bring up Netscape, and I've got Slashdot, the magazine (latest edition) whenever I want.

    Yes, I want that in my stocking this year as well!

  • Well....

    I have a PalmIII and a mobile phone with IrDA-interface. What would really make paper obsolete would be a /.-client for Palm (not a traditional www-browser - though palmscape would work too, given that /. could be available in a "lighter" version without graphics), cutting all the graphics etc., and enabeling off-line reading/posting.

    Would DEFINITELY make time spend in the subways more interresting :)
  • by Tsarnon ( 4195 ) on Sunday November 21, 1999 @03:29PM (#1514048)
    There really needs to be a magazine for computers like Consumer Reports. It would need to follow their rules:
    • No advertising.
    • The ratings cannot be used for advertising.
    • All tested items must be bought through retailers who do not know the item is for the magazine. Items donated by the manufacturer must not be accepted.
  • I don't mind that a lot of mags die a slow death, there are too many of them around anyway.

    Why would a mag die?

    -Lack of interesting content.
    Very easy to keep publishing the same kind of info, that was once very interesting, but may have become really annoying because times have changed. So a mag should be aware of why it exists.

    -Too high a price.
    There is a limit to what the masses want to pay for a mag. Keeping advertisers happy can be difficult, but giving your advertisers better reviews then others is a sure way to die. It will get noticed by the readers, they will stop reading your mag and the mag fades out like a candle. So keeping the readers interested is of vital importance.

    -Wrong layout.
    The wrong layout can really be devestating. A mag should look inviting, be easy to navigate, but all of this shouldn't be a problem when the right people work in the right places.

    -Outdated information.
    Well that can be a real problem. The net provides the most up to date info there is. But a lot of people don't want to look for it on the web, or read it on a computer screen, they want to receive a mag on a regular bases, so they can read of in the bathroom, in bed or in the train to work.

    All I'm saying is, the ones that remain are the onces I would the to read. Some mags disappear, but they disappear for a reason, they weren't good enough, they published info too few people were willing to pay for, the published info that was old when it hit the shelves, they didn't replect the times we live in.

    Some mags remain and other will take the place of the onces that have gone. These are the mags we want to read, these are the mags that publish interesting and up to date stuff, these are the mags we read in the bathroom and the se are the mags we read when commuting to our work places.

    So if some mags go out of print it's not a sign of the end of all mags, but more a sign of renewal.

    Yo.
  • As a journalist working on an IT publication in New Zealand I have to tell you that we seriously don't care what ads are in the paper - in fact, as I write each story, I have no idea who or what is being advertised.

    Absolutely!! I would moderate you up if i could!Most people here whining about magazines being biased have absolutely no clue about how computer magazines are being written. The fact is that the ads are put in the magazine after the stories are written, by different people. I'm getting kind of pissed of now so i will shut up before i lose too much karma.
  • Some posters have already noted the trend for computing magazines to be dumbed-down. This makes sense for various reasons. The first is that the market for non-technical computing magazines is far larger than the technical market simply because there are less people knowing more stuff :) And of course the market is smaller than you might expect because of online content.

    So what you might call good computing magazines will be limited in number. Anyone wanting up-to-the-minute stuff gets on on the Web. D'uh.

    But even if "News for Nerds" is suited to an online format, not everything is.

    These are the magazines that might/do work (not for me, I'm cheap, I read them in the library!!):
    1. Games (cover CDs alone will keep some afloat).
    2. Introduction to Computer type magazines - the "really really new" market isn't going away. The Sydney Morning Herald's Icon [smh.com.au] section is still running "What is e-mail?" sections, as is internet.au [ia.com.au].
    3. Computer consumer magazines. OK, the market might be fading a bit thanks to online material, but in the same way some (lots of?) people read catalogues in their mailbox, some people want to look at ads for computers. And not all of them are going to go and visit a separate URL for each manufacturer. Especially if they're new to the market or buy computing equipment very seldom.

    There are going to be computing magazines, just as there are for any other lesuire activity, even those centered around another medium - eg TV.
  • mag's of the future will only be ones that are great reading in the can.

    the only magazine i read regulary is PcAccelerator, it's a game zine with lots-a-hot-chicks.

    great for reading in the can :)

    -Jon
  • All I can tell you is I have zero pressure applied to me from the advertising people here at the paper and any pressure the advertisers themselves try to apply is firmly rebuffed at a higher level than myself - my editor and publisher both take a very (VERY) dim view of advertisers who try to pull ads because they "didn't get the editorial coverage" they felt they deserved. Perhaps it's different in the US but here in NZ we're still fighting the good fight.
  • I spent some time researching different computer magazine and my conclusion is that there seems to be only _one_ good magazine left (please correct me if you find another one). It is "c't" magazine which gets published both in Germany and in the Netherlands.
    While half of the magazine is advertisement, they managed to ban most of it to the end of the magazine where it doesn't interfere with editorial content. The editorial content is of very high quality and test reports in c't are usually the only reliable source of reasonably objective comparitive analysis. The editors have no qualms bashing products if they prove to be of low quality, even if these products are made by one of their biggest advertising customers. In general, the editors believe that given c't unique reputation it can only be a poor decision on the hardware/software vendors part to withdraw ads from c't and it will hurt the vendor much more than the magazine.
    I wish, there were more magazines like this, but until then I happily spend the premium that it costs me to get my subscription mailed to the US. I very much enjoy reading the paper edition, even though about 50% of it can be read online at http://www.heise.de. By the way, if you know German, this URL provides an excellent Newsticker and many Slashdot articles have originally shown up on the c't ticker first.
    Heise also offers two or three other magazines, but I personally believe c't to be the most well balanced one; they have another magazine (ix) which focuses more on UNIX and every so often I buy a copy, but I let my subscription run out a few years ago.
  • Forgot to mention: All of the advertising is stripped out in Developer Source. All you get is content, including code and figures:-)
  • It isn't bullshit. There are some magazines that flat out will change your rating if you buy adds with them.
  • I actually read online magazines in the bathroom all the time. (And on the bus, and in spare moments at work at K-Mart, as long as the bosses don't catch me.) And e-books and things. I just suck 'em down to my trusty Palm IIIe using AvantGo [avantgo.com] and SiteScooper [clubi.ie], and off I go!

    No, I'm not online at the time...but why would I need to be? Content's content, no matter if I'm actually online while I'm reading it or if I just suck it down and read it later.
  • And I'd bet most of us on Slashdot did the same. They're written for a lowest common denominator that I find myself far, far above. How many times have you read this:

    "Linux, an alternative to Windows developed by Finnish college student Linus Torvalds..."

    or

    "...by TCP/IP, the "language" used by the internet for one computer to talk to another.

    I have found all the ZD pubs - PC magazine especially - to be far too mundane to even bother perusing. The idea that the printed pub will die soon is a self-fulfilling prophecy - any zine that I even bother reading is forward thinking enough to already be on the web for my perusal either by PC or Palm. I doubt that they'll go away anytime soon though - the PHBs of the world have to have something to read on the john, and I've found that PC Magazine and/or Wired has filled that niche nicely.
    --
    "Some people say that I proved if you get a C average, you can end up being successful in life."
  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Sunday November 21, 1999 @03:58PM (#1514075) Homepage Journal
    Did anybody every buy COMPUTER SHOPPER for the editorial content?-)
  • I certainly agree that it is immensely unlikely that magazines will go away altogether; after all, there is still continuing to be growth of them even now.

    The prediction of their demise is premature, although not implausible; consider that newspapers have not been seeing big growth lately.

    Magazines should, nonetheless, still remain for quite some time now.

    The point to this thread is not that of when "magazines go away;" it is about:

    • What sorts of magazines can persist?

      In the Linux realm, there are presently Linux Journal, Linux Magazine, and Maximum Linux. One good question is of which ones of these will still be around in a couple of years.

      We've seen Byte Magazine go through "phases," including a period of "going out of business."

    • What sorts of magazines would it be nice to have?

      Personally, I see little value to the Maximum Linuxes of this world. I look back with some longing to ancient byte of the '70s and early '80s. I look back with some regret at the failure of Micro Cornucopia. (Few will remember it.)

    In the long run, magazines may be a "dead" concept, but as Lord Keynes said, "In the long run we're all dead." The point is to try to assess which magazines are likely to rise and fall between now and then, as well as which magazines we might like to see rise.

  • Croaker says of AvantGo (italicized text):

    'course, it's Windows only.

    Actually...no, it's not. There's a program called malsync [etpsoft.com] that will suck down AvantGo pages from a Linux shell prompt pretty as you please. This was the last of the utilities I needed that allowed me to use my Palm completely in Linux without ever having to reboot into Windows.

    I suspect that there's a similar thing out that will download websites and translate them into doc format. If not... there should be. Hmm... sounds like a job for Perl :)

    There's one of those, too. It's called SiteScooper [clubi.ie] and you can either run it yourself or download the fruits of its labors from this webpage in Doc or iSilo format.
  • ...and especially 'The Hard Edge', the column Alice Hill cowrites with veteran writer Bill O'Brien, I'm not especially surprised that traditional computer mags are coming to an end.

    What surprises me is that this comes from the mouth...errr....keyboard of Alice Hill. She's been writing for cshopper for more than 10 years, and is certainly a product of that industry.

    Magazines have gotten a LOT thinner, particularly cshopper, which used to qualify as an occupational hazard for my mail carrier. Cshopper is maybe half the size it was in the glory days.

    The article poster is right: PC magazines are very self serving to the products they advertise. But,personally, i used to read them for industry trends and op-ed pieces rather than for product reviews, which were always clearly slanted. Plus, I used to learn a lot from the "Tips and Tricks" and other technical sections, at least until they became more for newbies than for technical people, like they were in the 80s/early 90s. Cshopper still has the occasional gem...

    But I've found myself buying fewer and fewer magazines and getting more of this type of information online: Slashdot, ZDNet, C|Net, Wired.com .... the information tends to be more timely and less slanted in product reviews, especially on /. where you have so many wide and varied opinions...

    So I have to say...out with the old and in with the new...

  • A magazine in Australia did that once or twice. APC - Australian Personal Computer.

    Now if they did it regularly, that'd be great. They aim towards the clueful audience, and while most of their reviews are about Windows, they also cover hardware, Linux, BeOS etc... (yes, and Mac). Their "Workshop" section even has ongoing series on shell scripting, Linux admin, Java, C++, VB etc. They even published two special editions with RHL6 and a guide covering in excellent detail everything for the newbie to convert. Their latest one had RHL6 + updates, and COL 2.2(?).

    Very nice. :)

  • I believe there is a FAQ on Slashdot on how to make your story preferences Avantgo friendly.

    At this location [perilith.com] there is a mirror of the headlines and articles of /. in a Palm-friendly form.

    I suspect that there's a similar thing out that will download websites and translate them into doc format.

    SiteScooper [jmason.org] will convert websites to doc. But what you really want is malsync [mobilelink.org], which is a Unix version of the AvantGo conduit, or Plucker [rubberchicken.org], a GPL'd Palm HTML viewer with it's own conduit (written in AWK, currently being rewritten in Perl).

  • I admit to not reading every thread here but i did see mention of a slashdot magazine which got me thinking.

    what would be interesting is say a 'weekly roundup' of the stories that genereated teh most comments over the week and have a 'summary' opinion or mini editorial etc. a recap of anything interesting that came out of the bludgeoning.. err debate. ^_^ hmm might not work tho. and who would do it. mebbe some moderators or forum manager.. hmmm... probably too time consuming.

    Write your Own Operating System [FAQ]!

  • This reminds me of another place where the capitalistic model fails: Olympic coverage in the US (or lack thereof).

    Most people rather watch how some runner overcame his father's death than to see actual sports. The problem is, unlike the Superbowl, the whole concept of the Olympics is for money-making.. (At least it shouldn't be.) It should be to foster world harmony. And thus, I think it should be publicly funded.

    When I happened to be visiting China during the Atlanta games, the Olympics were on 2 gov't owned cable channels 24/7.. with EVERYTHING live whenever possible. (Reruns only came when there was nothing to see.) The primary (gov't owned) non-cable channel also carried all the big games.. live, of course, and in full. Obviously, the coverage still focused on sports China was good at, but ferchrissake I actually got to see SPORTS! Can't say the same for NBC.

    The fact of the matter is, advertiser-based support of Olympic coverage is NOT working, and neither is subscriber-based support (as evidenced by the ill-fated TripleCast). What we need is for the Olympics to be aired on, say, public television, with massive donations from rich people who care (and viewers), as well as the governement.

    I wonder if anyone is contemplating implementing this?
  • I can think of two good computer magazines off the top of my head that does a good job:

    • Dr. Dobb's Journal. I think everyone here is familiar with this one.
    • Microcomputer Journal (formerly ComputerCraft). This is a great magazine. I haven't seen it in a while and I don't even know if it still even exists. It's basically for hardware hackers. Common articles include communication protocols and how to use them in your own projects, buses, lots of PIC microcontroller stuff, designing and building PC hardware, etc... They also complemented the hardware info with source code and stuff. I really liked that magazine.


    Hmmm, what sets these magzines apart from the PC foo variety? Usefulness. The information found in these magazines will actually teach you lots of really neat stuff that you can use professionally and/or as a hobbyist.

    Actually, this brings to mind another issue: electronics mags. It seems that the North American ones (Popular Electronics and Electronics Now) tend to go towards, "here, build this, but you haven't really learned anything applicable outside of this project." On the other hand, all the European ones I've seen (Elektor, Everyday Practical Electronics, etc) have been truly informative. They have a good balance of theory and construction articles. Too bad I live in North America...
  • (Caveats/credits: I wrote about half a dozen articles for PC MAGAZINE about a decade ago, before my then-employer got too deeply into the PC business for me to avoid conflicts of interest. I interviewed at c|net a couple of years ago; they and I were very interested, but there were reservations on both sides, and I turned down their not-too-strong offer.)

    c|net, like Mark Twain's would-be obituary writer, might be right eventually, but is 'way too early.

    Yes, BYTE shot themselves in the foot when they lost track of their audience. PC may be heading in exactly the same direction: do they want the enterprise crowd, the home crowd, or both? (They're walking the line more carefully then BYTE did.) The Web is faster, cheaper, and bigger than even COMPUTER SHOPPER at its peak.

    Still, the Web has its weaknesses. Primary among them is its lack of ability to generate (and earn!) big advertising revenues. PC may get all its review hardware and software for free, but the test lab isn't cheap.

    I think a lot of the dead tree publications, especially from the ZD family, are doing a good job at working both paper and electronic publication. The trick is to keep the latter from killing the revenue stream of the former.

    BTW, if there's anything I've learned from watching the personal computer press for twenty years, its that "newbie" magazines don't last. Yes, the first time PC buyer will pick up a copy of FAMILY PC about the time he/she signs up for AOL, but won't be back to the newsstand, and won't subscribe.

    One person's opinion. --PSRC (likely to fall asleep tonight with the current PC issue; less likely to renew my subscription, but we'll see)
  • Well computer magazines have changed over the years so whether or not they're dead depends on how you define them. When I was a kid COMPUTE! magazine was 300 pages long and published complete listings of programs and the only way to get them was to type in the listings. The writing was very technical back then and well above what a modern magazine could get away with. Then they stopped publishing software entirely and started writing philosophical articles on a very technical level. Now they're either reviewing software or writing about biotech or the meaning of life. So the days of COMPUTE! magazine are definitely over but computer magazines are just adapting to match today's less technically oriented audience.
  • I get PR reps or vendors calling occasionally too, asking if they can place copy in the magazine. Duh, hello! It's pretty fun telling them to go find another publication.

    Certainly at PC Week (and I think at most publications), there is a huge wall between edit and advertising. I don't even know who works in our ad department, I never get phone calls or e-mails from them, and I never know what ads are going to be in the magazine. I don't even really look, actually. The only material affect ads have on my day-to-day life is they affect how many pages of edit there are, since the ad-to-edit ratio is mandated by the postal service (to get a particular mailing rate). When we have more ads in a given week, we need to write more, and vice versa.

    People charging that ad dollars affect type or amount of coverage are being sucked in by a seductive argument, but one that just isn't true. Other issues, like unfamiliarity with technology x or the effectiveness of the PR company representing company y are examples of factors that actually do make a difference.

    - Tim Dyck, Senior Analyst, PC Week Labs
  • Depends on the magazine and on the ads. Sometimes (remember Computer Shopper) the ads are worth more than the content itself. Sometimes, ads are very welcome.

    On UNIX and networking magazines, which are the only ones I buy, I like browsing through the magazine, looking more at the ads than at the content, before actually reading the magazine, so I can grasp the one or two interesting ones, and ignore the rest of them. It's not that hard to do, because most full-page ads are on the same side of the magazine, and I usually fold it along the center when I read it :)

    Of course, I would love to remove ads from general public magazines... Except by the fact that I'm not interested in them, and I never read them :)
  • Since when has the Slashdot population bothered to actually read a link they didn't like the look of? :)

    I think you're both right - so long as a magazine has interesting columnists writing compelling material, the dead wood magazine will live.

    To further emphasis your point, I can't take Salon.com on an eight hour flight across the Atlantic.
  • Hell. I always pick up the local *FREE* computer mags (which are 90% ads) *for* the ads. Heck, there's a few others computer mags that are free, with less ads, and I always skip over them.

    Why? The local computer companies advertise a lot in there (and because of the competitiveness, the prices tend to be better than having to shop online for it [shipping, taxes...]). So, I just use the 'net for the few things I can't get locally.

  • I bought a subscription to Wired after reading some nice articles linked from Slashdot. WOW, that's a lot of ads! I was very disappointed. If I have to search for the text, I throw it away.

    Also, did you notice that on the webpage linked to in this story, it's actualy quite difficult to find the ads! What a PLEASANT surprise!
  • Does the palm have the protocol stack to talk to cell phones?

    Well, It can speak IrDA (IrCOMM). Sadly, most phones cannot (Ericsson SH888 can, tho'....and works like a dream with Linux IrDA too)

  • You've nailed the problem: any communications channel supported by advertising owes more to any individual advertiser than to any individual reader and more to its advertisers as a group than to its readers.
    I'm not so sure I agree with this... I mean, on the surface, it sounds like a good theory: Newspapers and magazines sell advertising, so they can't be impartial, right? Well, couldn't you say the same thing about Slashdot and other electronic forms of media? Wouldn't you then expect the same rule to apply to something like Slashdot, which attracts readers by commenting on the very industry that Andover.net is involved in? I don't think it's as big a problem as people would like to think, either in electronic or paper journalism. The New York Times, for instance, tries to keep a "Chinese Wall" between the advertising and journalism parts of its business. Most other newspapers and magazines do a similar deal, and when that separation is violated (like with the LA Times a while back, I seem to remember) it's a pretty big scandal. People tend to get pretty upset. Everyone understands that the integrity of the journalist is paramount, and so for the most part journalists and journalistic organizations seem to police themselves (and each other)...
  • In one issue of PC Gamer, they had an ad for some terrible game (I think it was "Space Bunnies Must Die!"), and on the next page a review bashing that game. Same deal with the Myst series - they despise it, but have lots of ads for it.
    So journalistic integrity is still around, at least in some cases.
    --
  • Hey, that's right! We could call it... "Old News for Nerds. Stuff that Mattered."
    --
  • There *is* something wrong with the way advertising is handled in these mags. No company can be trusted to be objective when they get money from the companies whose products they review.

    Of course, down deep, I'm sure all of us are aware that magazines have to advertise to survive. They *don't*, however, have to advertise computer-related products.

    Computer geeks may be obsessed with computers, but generally they have most of the system they want/can afford. But do they have enough whiskey?

    A magazine that wanted to make it clear that it was impartial would, in my opinion, seek out advertising that cannot possibly affect its judgement. Alcohol, cologne, watches, laundry soap, movies, cars, makeup; the things about which normal people get advertisements.

    As for the computer companies who put ads in computer magazines, I think they are stupid and/or foolish. Most of their ads are for whole systems, usually advertised at around $1500, which seems totally inane to me - what kind of geek spends $1500 on a factory-assembled PC?
  • It is all of those things, along with a website: http://www.heise.de/ct/ (english version with reduced content: http://www.heise.de/ct/english/ ) but it is also imho so technical that large parts of it are unreadable for all except very small groups.
    This has got worse in the last 18 months, or maybe it's me.
  • To be honest, as a customer, I don't give a rat's ass if the publisher eats that month or not. If there are more ads in the magazine than useful content, the magazine is staying on the rack. That's why I prefer web content. Not only is it more current, but there's only one little ad at the top of the page. Web magazines are *forced* to be 99% content. This I like.

    - A.P. (100,000 hits a month isn't much, btw...)
    --


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • I agree C't is a pretty good general-purpose computer magazine. However, once you want something more specialized you'll be on your own (e.g. in case you don't want all those product tests). As an example, I once got my hands on US Dr Dobbs Journal (http://www.ddj.com). It is (was at the time) quite a good technical computer magazine that is centered on what would be the Knowledge / Programming part in C't. But it's virtually impossible (and would be quite uncomfortable) to find DDJ in a library (even in a city with a university oriented towards technology), you (as a normal student) cannot subscribe to it because it's way to expensive outside of the US and you won't find but one article online (I can understand that decision). The point is, I want that information and would pay for it the adequate sum but cannot get it (once I earn that much money I don't think I have the time left for reading it ;-(). Somebody should come up with a safe way for micro payments. I could even pick exactly what I want to read. There is a DDJ article on XML query languages? I'll pay for it because going through all those W3C pages is quite time-consuming! An introduction to XML? Nah, I don't need that anymore. And BTW, I don't think it's enough just to surf the net for finding good background articles. It's a very difficult task to write an understandable, technically correct text on a specific topic, and nobody is going to write, edit, and publish this for free.
  • Isn't freshmeat.net more about getting updates of those one, two apps per week that really interest you? Plus learning about new stuff?

    I understand that StarOffice is too big to download for many people (that's why they ship a CD of it for little money) but it's a bit questionable (from an ecological point of view, IMHO) to collect 50 CD's per year that you'll never use again.
  • So if we can't trust advertiser-financed media, who is going to pay for the media we want?

    The internet shows through the failure of subscriber-based content sites that the average internet punter is of the opinion that all this information should be free. The information may be free, but the effort needed to collect, colate, analyse and present the information isn't, and we should be compensating those who do the actual work.

    The number-one ranked comment as I write this is about how we should be pressuring wealthy people to fund these media services. The great american way -- get someone else to pay for it.

    Even our beloved /. was grubbing for donations, and eventually ended up here with Andover.

    Consider: would you pay $10 or $20 per year to use /.? Would you put your money where your mouth is? I'm honest -- I'm a cheap bastard so I'll cheerfully say that I wouldn't.

    Most of those who would claim they would pay are liars.

    I, on the other hand, accept the advertising as a cost of the "free" content. If a site wants me to look at a banner ad which tries to interest me in widgets or wonkies or Linux Servers, fine. I'll read the ads. (Banner ads are a lousy idea, but that's beside the point.)

    Magasines may grow on trees, but it costs money to turn them from trees into Dvorak columns. That's going to come from somewhere. And if you won't put your money up for it, you have to chose between advertising and not having it.

    So which is it going to be?
    --

  • I've never thought much of most computer magazines - they have too much stake in promoting the products of their advertisers to be believable.

    And what makes Slashdot any different? I have a banner ad for an SGI server right over this. And you get ads from VA Linux, Linux Care, O'Reilly, yada yada yada...

  • Nope, the whole concept of the Olympics isn't to foster world harmony, it's to engage in nationalistic my-country-is-better-than-yours propaganda.

    I can't tell if you're being sarcastic...

    But assuming you're not, you're wrong. Perhaps nationalism has contaminated the Olympics to a large degree, but that's not the PURPOSE of the Olympics. Ever heard of sportsmanship? People may lack it at times, but it's the underlying principle behind competitive sports nonetheless.

    In any case, despite the unsportsmanlike conduct of its participant countries at times, the Olympics have done quite a bit to foster world harmony, often managing to bring together mutually antagonistic nations in a similar way to Ping Pong Diplomacy.

    There are few things in the world that can prevent the U.S. from bombing people.. Not religious holidays, not even the U.N. can do that.. but the Olympics caused Clinton to hold off bombing Iraq until after the Games were over.

    I find that quite amazing.

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