We've noted some odd ideas by magazines lately as they try to embrace the online generation. It seems like they're still struggling to figure out how this online thing works. The NY Times has an article about a bunch of magazines who think they've figured out how to attract college-aged readers. They're going to start emailing them free issues of magazines. Of course, this comes as the very generation they're targeting is becoming less reliant on email, preferring things like "sitemail," instant messaging and text messaging as modes of communication. Going to email seems like a strategy from a decade ago. These days, college students are focused on communities: things like MySpace and Facebook. That is, they want to interact with their content, not just have it delivered. On top of that, to see the magazine, the kids will have to install some special software. No one wants to install special software just to see your content these days. The reason they have to install special software is so that the magazine looks like a traditional paper magazine, basically taking away just about all of the benefit for the magazine to go online. Readers can't show others the content, or discuss the content. It basically blocks the magazine off -- not just by adding hurdles to actually read it (even though it's supposed to be free!), but by making it difficult to actually use it. The web works fine as a publishing mechanism, using old delivery mechanisms and additional software that isn't needed isn't going to attract younger readers. It's going to make them wonder why they should bother.
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