[kwlug-disc] Linux-Format Magazine

L.D. Paniak ldpaniak at fourpisolutions.com
Wed Mar 4 20:23:04 EST 2009

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Chris Frey wrote:

> *sigh*  I'm the only freak in the crowd. :-)

Not quite, but pretty close.

By my estimation, people in the print publishing world are a couple
steps behind the music publishing industry when it comes embracing open
source concepts and using them to their advantage.  I guess there is
just that much inertia in the field, clinging to time honoured
traditions and fear.

The print industry is by and large inefficient and full of people who do
not generate, nor improve content.  The examples I am most familiar with
are academic journals where the editorial staff neither produces nor
improves content (articles submitted for free - or with a payment - by
researchers and refereed by other volunteer researchers). Then there are
the "typesetters" who are apparently necessary to great cost turn
pre-formatted LaTeX or PDF documents into formatted PDF documents. Sites
like arxiv.org are an example of how all the needless middle cost can be
removed, distribution maximized and academic impact maintained through
an open model (modulo the courtesy of academic honesty: citation).
There each reader judges content for themselves and quality  is
recognized on its own merits.  The true cost of web distribution per
document is essentially zero not the $50 a journal would charge.

Another example is the free weekly in Vancouver, the Georgia Straight.
It was (is?) available every Thursday in corner boxes throughout the
Lower Mainland - if you got your copy before they were gone.  It was a
generally recognized fact that the "free" content in the Straight was of
better quality than anything available in the mainstream newspapers. Did
the Straight have ads - you bet!  Not more than the newspapers and way
more fun to read. Readership (2007) outstrips any other publication in
the Vancouver area.  Why?  Quality. Hence:

- -> quality -> readership -> pricing power for advertising -> $$$ -> ...

So Chris, there are a couple examples I know of that share our ideals of
getting quality information to people without the encumbrances of DRM.
I'm sure there are more examples out there, but I have always been
amazed that there are no (?) national/international scale publications
that use an open model.  Maybe a typical well-visited website which
generates its own content like cnn.com or a popular blog qualifies to
some faux-open extent.  The key is getting and maintaining a readership
base that you can use to get the advertising dollar. Can this be assured
by using open license that requires attribution?

Maybe we should start an open Linux journal and pipe the KWLUG
discussion list into it.  Write a few scripts to format it nicely and tada!

Bandwidth is not that expensive.  My web host (powweb.com) claims
"unlimited" bandwidth for $100/year.  Sure it isn't really unlimited,
but probably enough for any fledgling open publication.

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