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Commentary

InfoWorld Follows (Readers') On-line Path

InfoWorld has announced that their April 2 issue will be the last to appear in print. The magazine follows in the footsteps of Intelligent Enterprise in going on-line only. Like IE, InfoWorld cites the advertisers' desire for "more immediate gratification and measureable results than print can afford them." Yet there's another important factor to on-line delivery that InfoWorld does not explore: reader preferences.
InfoWorld has announced that their April 2 issue will be the last to appear in print. The magazine - the computing trade rag I'd most want to write for if I weren't part of the Intelligent Enterprise family - follows in IE's footsteps in going on-line only; IE's last print issue appeared in January. Like IE, InfoWorld cites the Web as "a more efficient delivery mechanism" and they also cite advertisers' desire for "more immediate gratification and measureable results than print can afford them."

Yet there's another important factor to on-line delivery that InfoWorld does not explore: reader preferences.Many readers don't want paper anymore. They don't feel they need paper and it doesn't suit the way they collect and use information. The president of one software company and the marketing VP of another told me last week, independently, that they don't bother with print for trade information. They register keywords with our favorite search engine and have content delivered to them. They get focused, timely news without the clutter and waste of print.

Myself, I do the same although I'm not ready to give up print (when I can get it) or destination sites. I like clutter and the opportunity it brings for chance discovery. I like serendipity, to use a word coined by the English author Horace Walpole. Author Richard Boyle quotes a Walpole letter: "I once read a silly fairy tale called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of." Boyle cites a Walpole statement that "many discoveries have been made by men who were a la chasse of something very different."

On-line search expands our reach to encompass new information sources. But does reliance on automated news services and keyword matches - also on feeds from favored, syndicated channels - overly narrow our focus?

Magazines including both Intelligent Enterprise and InfoWorld exist to provide a broader industry view. Yet preference for on-line sources is now a fact of life. They need to consider more than "efficient delivery" and advertisers' desires. IE is entering its third month as an on-line only publication. My take is that the magazine is now doing better at delivering information the way readers want to receive it while continuing to provide an excellent big-picture framing. It has become clear that continued paper publication, incapable of adapting to new modes of information collection and consumption, would increasingly become an obstacle to effective IT reporting and analysis. I'm glad we've left it behind.

Seth Grimes is principal of Alta Plana, which consults for users and vendors on business intelligence, data warehousing, and emerging analytical technologies. Write him at [email protected].InfoWorld has announced that their April 2 issue will be the last to appear in print. The magazine follows in the footsteps of Intelligent Enterprise in going on-line only. Like IE, InfoWorld cites the advertisers' desire for "more immediate gratification and measureable results than print can afford them." Yet there's another important factor to on-line delivery that InfoWorld does not explore: reader preferences.