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tech publishing dying

2004-03-16 19:48:43.25974+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

Scoble had a link to Jason Mauss: Fawcette and other TechPubs: The writing is on the wall, about how weblogs are killing technical publications.

Probably a decade and a half ago I was writing an article for Dr. Dobb's Journal, and as we went through the revisions I realized that the editors were asking me to remove the style of writing that I wanted to read. The money was something of an influence, the article brought me about a week's pay, but mostly my wanting to get published was an ego trip. Now I have other outlets for the ego trip, so I'm no longer interested in writing for such publications, and I get better technical information written in a style I prefer from other people who write in similar forums to my own.

The paper has become irrelevant, and it turns out that the editor had value primarily on getting things to paper, not on content advice.

Mauss suggests solutions like switching to producing instructional videos (uhhh... I'm not likely to watch in real time something I can read about much much faster) and doing surveys on more than just salaries (Is "Cowboy Neal" going to be one of the options?), but he's missing the point: I'll still pay for good filtering, but the editor has to be knowledgeable in the field, and has to stop making the writing flat and lifeless. To stay knowledgeable in the field, the editor can't really be full-time editor.

Which means that the collaborative filtering mechanism of weblogs wins.

[ related topics: Weblogs Writing Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-03-16 20:31:04.993965+00 by: aiworks

You know, I did an article for CUJ about 4 years ago and was struck with the idea that they were pretty desperate for any content; there weren't any roadblocks (none!) along the way from idea submission to publication (and I didn't choose a particularly exciting topic). For some time, all of the technical mags have been getting thinner and thinner: I remember back when you could easily kill someone with a Computer Shopper. In general, the whole computer magazine industry reminds me of what happened to the TRS-80 specific magazines once their heyday was over: chronic weight loss, brand combinations, and general dumbing down.

And don't knock the instructional videos too much. Do you remember those Borland "David I" C++ videos? Those actually weren't too bad.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-03-16 22:42:40.181137+00 by: Mars Saxman

The linked article would be much more readable if he didn't keep saying "TechPubs" like it was some kind of technical term. It was really irritating.