This issue of Technology Review represents a departure. Oh, it looks much the same, I know. And save a few, largely cosmetic changes, it is the magazine you are accustomed to reading. As has been our custom since 1899, we describe emerging technologies and analyze their likely impact. Indeed, if readers find any alteration in our pages, they might note a stricter policing of that mission: we have eliminated coverage of technology business and financing because surveys suggested that you didn’t want it.
But observant subscribers will have noticed that they did not receive an issue of Technology Review in November. More, anyone who visited technologyreview.com on November 4 saw an entirely new website. The events are related. We are becoming a very different kind of publisher.
The details are described for subscribers, advertisers, and the MIT alumni in letters attached to the December/January issue. In brief, we will print the magazine half as often, although existing subscribers will receive as many issues as they are owed. Our website will now post three news analysis stories a day, and also offer blogs, text-to-speech audiocasts, RSS feeds, and a variety of media like Flash. Content that is only available online will be free; premium content will be available to subscribers and the MIT alumni.
Why these changes? Why mess with a good thing? In September, the board of Technology Review, Inc., asked me to take on the additional responsibilities of publisher. They encouraged me to consider innovative solutions to some of the difficulties of contemporary publishing.
The Internet has discomforted many industries, but traditional publishing is particularly unhappy. Readers (especially young readers) are spending more time online: increasingly, they want their information to be timely, searchable, personalized, and part of a social network. At the same time, advertisers are spending more money on interactive media: they are demanding efficiency, accountability, and a measurable return on their investments. The former’s preferences would matter less were it not that the latter has sponsored the costs of print publication. Thus, at the very time when the costs of acquiring and retaining print readers are growing, when hiring the writers, editors, and designers has seldom been so expensive, publishers face the contraction of advertising revenues.