My answer to Tony Silber’s question

My friend (and he is) Tony Silber, the editor and publisher (and partner) of Folio: Magazine wants to know why the blogosphere went apoplectic at the news InfoWorld is ceasing its print version:

“A reporter hates to admit missing a story, so it’s hard to acknowledge I came into work this morning, checked the blogs for the latest news and buzz, and found them burning up with reports that IDG’s InfoWorld was about to shut down its print magazine and go online only.”

Many years ago, I said on this blog that I would not track the closure of magazines, or, for that matter the lay-offs. I’m not interested in following or commenting on the transaction side of the magazine industry. I depend on Tony and others to keep me abreast of that. As he points out in that post, he reports constantly on magazines doing what InfoWorld did today. Why was this such a big deal?

Unlike other magazines that close (and launch) every week in the world in which Tony and I live, the Infoworld brand is one that many tech bloggers grew up with. Why did the blogosphere ignite, Tony asks. Well, read this post yesterday from Dave Winer, the Johnny Appleseed of blogging (and the Christopher Columbus of RSS). It recounts the role the magazine played in a series of startup projects reaching back 25 years. It memorializes the role of a great business-to-business media platform and, yes, a community, in the development of an industry — an industry in which many influential bloggers spend their lives. It was just one of several such memorials on the blogosphere this past weekend.

There may have been some “death of old media” taint to some of the blog response to the Infoworld news, but most of what I read seemed to place it in the correct context with regards to what it is: an appropriate response to the realities of a saturated and confused marketplace in which it’s much easier to make money selling registrations than giving away subscriptions.

As for why I jumped into the conversation? I am an evangelist and creator of all types of conversational media as much as I am an evangelist and creator of magazines. I see clearly how they all work together and the role each of these media play in our lives and work. Too often, in the intersection between the magazine industry and blogosphere where I sit, I witness some gross misunderstanding of what’s going on — on the other side.

Final thought — and I’ve recalled this with Tony before. About ten years ago, in one of the last times I was in the World Trade Tower, I was on what had to be the first panel Tony Silber ever moderated on the topic of “magazines creating online media.” (Scary thought, but 11 years ago, oh man, am I old, I was on the cover of Folio: in a story about magazine websites.) The panel was being held in the facility Pace University used to have in what I think was the south tower. I remember saying to the assembled group of magazine people that somewhere in Palo Alto, there was a group of tech people attending a similar seminar trying to learn about the business of magazine publishing.