The last print edition of PC Magazine goes out this January. It’s the end of an era.
As much as I like the online world, I also love magazines, and PC Magazine was at one time my absolute favorite. But I haven’t read the magazine in years, so I suppose I’m as guilty as the next guy for its demise.
You could as easily bemoan the passing of the Camaros and Firebirds that were the hot cars in my high school days. Perhaps this is where GM lost the plot. Ford was able to keep the mustang revved up. It wasn’t just a commodity, it was an interesting car.
Did something similar befall PC Magazine? Hard to say with certainty, but for me, so many things it used to report on became commoditized that it was no longer interesting. PC’s were highly commoditized to the point I didn’t care about their reviews of desktop or laptop PC’s. Instead I turned to building my own PC’s with custom cases and overclocked cpu’s to keep it interesting: shades of the car hot rodding culture.
At the same time I was pursuing the most bleeding edge performance enhancements to be made to PC’s, I discovered the online PC counterculture. There were hundreds of PC modding boards that had everything from articles that were just as interesting as the magazine articles, but also communities, which were something I couldn’t even get from the magazines.
PC Magazine may have simply fallen out of touch with that Early Adopter/Influencer crowd that I enjoy being a part of. Ironically, Bill Machrone, the founding editor of PC Mag, is still around and doing the kind of hands-on work with computers and electronics that I craved from PC Mag and that vanished from its pages.
Raise a toast to the old PC Magazine (and its many cousins–InfoWorld, Computerworld, PC World, etc.), say a fond farewell, and ask whether your product or company is staying fresh with the people that matter, or whether you’re headed down the commodity path.
Fred Wilson writes about how important it is for him to blog and about how his article on Boxee led to 100 requests for invitations to their private beta. His sentiment about why this may be important is related to what I’m trying to say about avoiding the commodity world as your only interested audience:
I know that one person out of the 100 I invited this morning will be incredibly impactful for boxee. It could be five people, it could be ten. Who knows?
But in the world of social media, word of mouth and word of link marketing, it is connectors and influencers like all of you that make the difference.
And that’s one of the main reasons I keep writing, commenting, discussing, and participating in blogs, tumblr, twitter, disqus, and the social media world at large.
Its about the “realest” work I do.
It is the loss of those connectors and influencers that leaves you with an audience that won’t sustain you. Fred is right: sustaining that sort of audience is the “realest” work you can do too.