Each morning, I, along with several other million Web surfers, start the day by catching up with the news. At one point, I would have tuned into a morning television newscast or read the daily newspaper tossed in my driveway, but those outlets are now second or third in order of preference.
However, once a week, I do sit down with The New Yorker to read the commentary, analysis and interviews that cant be found anywhere else. (And, yes, I like the cartoons, too.) I cant imagine preferring to read a Seymour M. Hersh exposé online instead of in print. Then, if a print article or ad about, say, hybrid vehicles sparks my interest, Ill turn once again to the Web for the latest reviews, directories and pricing comparisons related to those vehicles.
That sweet spot between breaking news and online directories and buyers guides is where magazines belong. And its where we here at eWEEK—with our print focus on analysis, commentary and interviews—are addressing our business-to-business technology readers.
Unlike the Web, magazines retain the ability to provide a total (not to mention totally portable) package—one that can help readers better understand a topic through the use of graphics, sidebars, photos and text “clues.”
Our journey to find the right mix of online and print editorial products reflects the rise in popularity of the Web and the ensuing turmoil in which the publishing industry now finds itself.
I like to argue that we have been ahead of the publishing curve due to technological expertise and economic Darwinism. Weve had many corporate parents through the years, and eWEEK, as part of the Ziff Davis Enterprise Group, was recently purchased by the Insight Venture Partners private equity and venture capital group. Based on my first meetings with the Insight principals, this seems like the best fit weve had in many years.
But back to our online and print publishing journey. Integrate the online and print staffs? Yes, we did that. Incorporate the news, features and Labs staffs to bring a wide range of expertise to the topics in our focus? Yup. Figure out a print frequency and focus based on what readers want to see in print versus online? We did that. Make sure we keep print fresh while we bring in all the new audio, video and social network Web capabilities? We did that and have the scars to prove it.
With the latest issue of eWEEK, you will see a publication that incorporates insight (yes, we named the section before we knew that a company named Insight would be our new corporate parent), analysis, commentary and interviews to provide you, our reader, with the business and technology information you need to do what is right for your company.
Between the immediacy of the Web at www.eweek.com and the database-driven buyers guides at www.webbuyersguide.com resides eWEEK print, a reader-focused sweet spot in the publishing spectrum. —Eric Lundquist
Out of Africa
A career in technology journalism is not generally considered dangerous. As a software reporter based in San Francisco, I tend to report from my office, meetings at the high-tech companies I cover, or conferences and other events across the country.
My laptop is small and light; wireless access is a given; and no less than 99.999 percent connectivity is acceptable. Thats just how I live and work.
But all that changed when I embarked on a recent trip to the impoverished West African country of Burkina Faso to see some of the challenges and opportunities Microsoft and its partners are facing to bring computer access to another billion people in developing countries by 2015.
I also experienced how eventful life on the road can be for an intrepid reporter in a developing land, and how useless technology is if the infrastructure and skills are not there to support it.
Take the Sofitel Ouaga 2000 hotels entire key-card system, which was inactive for nearly a week before being repaired. The fallback solution: flesh-and-blood humans. Security guards were positioned outside the elevators on each floor, 24 hours a day. You showed them your useless key card, and they used their master key card to let you into your room.
The iPhone Finish Line
The high-speed Internet connection in the hotel, considered to have the best accommodations in the country, was available less than 20 percent of the time, and because an offsite contractor managed it, there was nothing the hotel could do. Bandwidth in the Internet cafés was low and connectivity slow: I could e-mail only two of my slide show photos at a time, and each took between 10 and 15 minutes to upload.
Also, forget roadworthy cars. When you hire a taxi in Ouagadougou, what you get is a shell of loose, rattling metal around you and exhaust fumes that spew into the car.
Worse, almost every time you hire a cab, the first stop is at a gas station. Given the age and condition of most of the cars, turning off the ignition while the tank is being filled is often not an option because the cab might never start again. Considering that a little static can turn a car being filled with fuel into a fireball, you can imagine my reaction and that of the other occupants of the cab when we were left seated in the idling car while the driver pumped gas (and people milled around smoking).
My trip reminded me that life goes on whether you have benefited from the digital decade or not. But seeing the infrastructure challenges that lie ahead for Africa made me realize that something we take for granted that has enriched our lives could easily do the same for the citizens of Africa. The good news is the work to achieve this has already started. —Peter Galli
iPhone finish line
The proud but tired masses passed through a tunnel of hooting, clapping, beaming people offering pats on the back. No, it wasnt the finish line of a marathon (although it might have felt that way for some), but the end of the wait for … an iPhone.
On June 29, Apple rewrote the playbook for product launches and the supporting retail experience. The companys new iPhone isnt just a device, its a community—one that Apple helped foster through 6 p.m. (local time) launch festivities across the country.
To provide some perspective for eWEEKs coverage of the iPhone, I observed the launch festivities at one of Apples two retail stores in Bethesda, Md. The line of strangers waiting outside the store (the first of whom got his spot at 4 a.m.) happily chatted with each other, Apple employees and me.
Not surprisingly, there wasnt an iPhone cynic in the bunch. “I think this is a day that youre going to see a change in how computers, how handheld computers, are done,” said iPhone buyer Steve. “Its a little marketing history.” —Joe Wilcox
Just say nyet
“Nyet.” I looked at the woman standing behind the counter at my hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. The hotel, the Park Inn Pribaltiyskaya, is run by an English company, so I thought my request for an English language newspaper wouldnt be unusual. “Nyet!” she said again, more forcefully.
Id been spending part of the week at a conference intended to show Western companies that Russian software developers can do more than just outsourcing. Russian companies, I was told, can do it all, from helping design a project to creating the product to providing customer support. Companies in the United States and Western Europe just have to have faith.
On my last day in St. Petersburg, I hired a guide and driver so I could see some of the city. The guide was articulate and highly trained, and I learned more about Russian history in those few hours than I did in all of the courses I took in college. But I learned something else.
“If we want to park,” the guide said, “we need to give a bribe to the policeman.”
It turned out that a constant supply of small bribes is the cost of doing business— at least in St. Petersburg, at least when I was there. And that raised the question: Can a country where the answer to even simple requests often seems to be “no,” and where bribes are sometimes required to conduct everyday activities, really deliver on the promise of a high-end answer to difficult development? The talent is there, but so is the question of whether it can be delivered in a way thats acceptable to U.S. companies. —Wayne Rash
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