Sometimes you can’t stop a meme (Especially when you want to)

I Hate Memes

If there are two things that the web has enabled that I truly despise they are chain e-mails and their closely related (in my view) cousins, Blog/E-mail/WebMemes. Now I should qualify that a little, when I say memes I mean the lists, questions and quizzes that get passed from person to person and answered and reposted endlessly. They answer no questions of real value in my view and tend only to provoke stupid answers (I note some very few exceptions of quality. If you are insulted by this post consider yourself part of that select group 🙂 ).

Well Not All Of Them

But sometimes an idea forces itself onto the internet and gains currency not through quizzes and tests and list but by posts and articles and that is a meme I have time for. It’s an unconscious seizing of the zeitgeist or something like that. And it is a funny thing but this week, despite the fact that I have been enormously distracted I accidentally got caught by one: The New Magazines Meme.

I posted a long piece on the idea the other day having read Chris Perason’s work. Today I see This, This and This all referring to the potential for a MySpace Magazine which makes physical my contention some time ago now that MySpace Is Already A Publishing Giant!

But The Story Is Bigger Here

But what I want to talk about is the idea of Internet Content & Print. Looking about recently you may have seen that The Friday Project is flourishing by re-publishing in print work that was originally blog content. Some others have had similar success.

The question that occurs to me is this: Is Print really dying?

We keep getting the stories about how books and newspapers are doomed by the digital tide. But perhaps like the people at Blurb.com say:

Perhaps new technologies serve to magnify the intrinsic value of the thing that came before. In an age when information is instant, dynamic and searchable, what is the intrinsic value of the book? Here’s a first cut at a top ten list (but please send your ideas):

Eileen’s Top Ten Reasons Why Books are Even More Valuable in a Wired World

1. Everyone needs a little analog in their life

2. Human readable. No technology upgrades required.

3. Wonderfully tactile

4. Immersive experience

5. Shareable and giftable (difficult to “gift” a site)

6. Well understood organizing principle

7. People buy books (but rarely content)

8. They’re beautiful artifacts

9. No batteries required

10. You can spill stuff on them and they still work

I think there is a trend Vs fad issue here

But what is it? The Trend is that we realize again the value of Print and the use we can put it to, even in this digital age. We can all too easily be driven wild with the belief that the electronic will replace the plain paper or that a new paper will replace the old one, but I suspect not. Paper’s role will shift and with it digital technologies and print will realign. There is no guarantee that we will read newspapers forever in the format they currently stand, indeed daily are potentially in great trouble but what of weekly magazines and papers, sundays and monthlies too? Are they as challenged by blogging, the stream of constantly updated news and instant access online? Not if they pitch themselves correctly and evolve to meet demand.

Similarly books will not shift entirely to e-books or blogs. They may live in both worlds and be more successful in one than the other but it is clear that print has been overly harshly treated recently. What is the trend. Print Will Recover.

What is the Fad though?

Is it the Blog book as a genre? I doubt it. If we accept that the blog is a tool for authors and everyone then surely successful blogs will either be translated directly into books or will form the basis for an authors platform and be a jumping off point for a print book or a series or even for a magazine as discussed before.

The fad is the idea of destruction and defeat of print. Mass market print will survive the arrival of digital delivery just as radio survived the arrival of television and television the arrival of video and video (in its enhanced form of DVD) is surviving the arrival of downloads. It may be forced to change, its focus may shift from immediate news to more thoroughly researched and investigated pieces supported by an online presence. It may even attract less ad revenue but then so what? Is print entitled to a high price point for any specific reason? And even that revenue fall is not guaranteed. Stop calling print dead, it’s alive and kicking and if you ignore it and concentrate on digital streams you ignore a massive market. Do that at your peril.

Dealing with dreary Dublin

Eoin