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I’ve loved the internet since my first experience with it back in ’96 when I was at college and we’d rack up huge bills talking to Canadian’s about the weather over Compuserve at £3 a minute.  The dawn of a new age!  One thing that has struck me since that time is watching the process of ‘old media’ (for want of a better phrase) deal with the freedom that ‘new media’ brings.  Content out there on the internet is freely available and from it’s inception, the pay-per-view model associated with newspapers and magazines wasn’t likely to work…or so the assumption could be made.

I have to admit, most of the news either of current events, tech or entertainment I get now comes from Internet sources.  There are a few destination sites I got to regularly and I skim a load of RSS feeds to pick out interesting bits here and there but I do also subscribe to a couple of magazines and buy the occasional newspaper.  A part of me wonders why.  Is there anything I can only get from having a magazine in print?  Is there anything that I don’t get from te web that I find in the pages of a newspaper?

If the content is reproduced verbatim across media then in my opinion, there’s something wrong, which is perhaps part of the problem during this wayfinding between publishers and online media.  There needs to be a clear value proposition between the delivery methods.  Not all streams are created equally – and they shoudln’t be treated as such.

In my eyes, why not have a full article with great images in print and use the web to have a summarised version perhaps with video or some interactive elements that can work together?  There is clear value between the sources – buy the newspaper and get the full ‘meat’ of the content, or the web for a summary and rich media.  Either one can work on it’s own but together they make a whole.

Bringing in commenting and interactivity around a web version of printed assets extends the life of event images from a printed piece.  Does that mean there needs to be some tagging system for all printed content?  Perhaps, or maybe referring to the issue, page and some identifyer is enough?

The interesting blend may be with ePaper – imagine down the line a bit where flexible, colour ePaper displays become somewhat normal to see around.  This mimics the printed world in principle but would devices such as these offer a real blend not only between methods of supplying content but also in terms of charging for content.  If we’re now happy to pay for digital music now that the supply has been made convenient for people, would the same work for newspapers of magazines?

(check out the durability of these displays: http://www.epapercentral.com/hp-debuts-new-paper-thin-plastic-display.htm)

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13th November, 2009