[SOUNDSTAGE!] Marc Mickelson is the
Editor-in-Chief of SoundStage!
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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
April 1999

Random Thoughts on Audio

I read something interesting that’s worth sharing:

Today, I’m completely convinced that use of the print medium for written content is on the verge of a plunge. In other words, when it comes to distributing information to consumers, the Internet has it all over print -- it's simply better in almost every respect, and in the end it delivers a better product. Furthermore, with Internet technology advancing at lightning speed, any advantages that print still has are insignificant. Pictures and text are better over the Internet; and, of course, sound and video are out of the print medium's reach.

The author doesn’t stop there:

Are there those who will disagree with me? Certainly. But my working life, in fact almost my entire day-to-day existence, is dedicated to the computer world. It's my job to watch and evaluate changes in technology. I see the biggest changes going on from the inside --and this is what I see. By the year 2000, the way the world receives its information, and by that I include the entire publishing world, will be changed forever.

My interest in such strong ideas, as the editor of a collection of websites, is understandable. These words are part cheerleading and part common sense to me. I see the paradigm shifting around me, and I see how it worries some people and invigorates others. Here’s some more:

I think we will eventually look back and realize that in the publishing realm, print magazines that relied solely on their paper-based content were never more valuable than they are right now. In order to advance from their present position, print must have a rock-solid web base today, at this very moment. Playing catch-up in this fast-paced world is nearly impossible at best. Furthermore, understanding, creating, and being able to disseminate useful web content is a far cry from emulating a print magazine, making the transition impossible for most. It is a paradigm shift that many can’t imagine (although they try). It's doomsday for some and a golden opportunity for others.

It’s easy to be arrogant when you’re right, and this author is right.

I find it especially interesting that there is so much said in print about the online world. In our little corner, Audio magazine published a feature article on various audio-related websites, and I can say that we were not only happy to be included in this article but also to be dised by the author. We are very unlike Audio, and that’s OK. I could go into detail here, but this would only bore the savvy among us who know how SoundStage! and Audio differ. For some reason, though, our differences were points of conflict for the author. So it goes.

However, what’s surprising to me is that Audio would want to comment on us to begin with. I mean, we’re a competitor of sorts, and although we do things differently -- not only in terms of what we cover but also how we cover it -- we’re not wrong, and neither is Audio. We’re happy to coexist.

We get mail every day praising us and taking us to task; so does Audio. We work hard to put out a monthly magazine of the highest quality, plan months ahead for content, and listen to our readers, imagining what they want. So does Audio. We have a large staff. So does Audio. We’re free; Audio isn’t, but they’re cheap enough to be almost considered as such. We cover trade shows and do it while we’re at the show. Audio’s staff attends the CES (we’ve seen them there), but the magazine doesn’t always publish an article about the Show. On the other hand, Audio often publishes in-depth articles about audio companies and the people who built them, and this is something we don't do. We both publish equipment, music, and movie reviews. We both cover new products. We have our own voice, and so does Audio.

So what about the passages that litter this editorial? Who are they from? Before I tell you this, I want to make one more point about the Internet and publishing: although anyone with a little computer savvy and server space can be on the Internet, thriving is difficult. The Internet is in its infancy, and as it grows, it will become both more competitive and more lucrative -- and the latter will continually drive the former. Will Audio need a place in cyberspace to call its own? Absolutely. And when it happens, we will welcome them -- the more the merrier.

Finally, Doug Schneider wrote the words I refer to, and he did it almost a year ago. The millennium is coming, and so is the shift that Doug predicted, faster than we all might think.

...Marc Mickelson

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