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Derb's Mixed Messages
12/31/2002

John Derbyshire presents a lecture in the Corner about the realities of online magazines. Essentially, "we don't put much effort into it." And here's why:

If I write something for a print magazine, it will be hanging around in orthodontists' waiting rooms for months, years, afterwards. It has a permanence that justifies all the resources print magazines put into their product. If I do something for the web, on the other hand, it's gone and forgotten the next day. Our web columns are only glancingly edited, and never fact-checked. A webzine simply can't justify those kinds of resources.

That's interesting. Why, just the other day, on that bit of ephemera known as NRO, Mr. Derbyshire wrote the following:

I often get e-mails about articles I wrote ages ago. People google some name or phrase, and a link to one of my pieces pops up.

Let's see, frightened patients and nervous parents at the orthodontist's office versus considered reading from people all over the world, generating several emails per week years after publication. And the Web is at a much earlier stage of development than magazine tables at the doctor's. The Web is only going to become less ephemeral, and readers who come across pieces there will have more often been looking for the information provided.

I'd say the online media people ought to reconsider their emphasis. The content made available now will be floating around cyberspace long after the Derb's dentist retires.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 10:53 AM EST