Print Vs. The Web

A funny thing happened the other day. Business 2.0
profiled one of the services the company I work for
offers. This included a screen shot of our web site, and
a nice review of our service. That wasn\'t the funny part.
The funny part was the reaction the article received
around the office. “Giddy” best summarizes the
responses of these 20 something employees
to having the web site they designed in a magazine.
Strange, considering it probably is viewed by more
people in a single day on the web, than will ever see it
in the magazine. But being in print made it some how
different, some how more worthy and important.
“Interesting”, I said to myself. “Perhaps the printed
word isn’t as dead as they say”. I don\'t normally talk to myself at work, but sometimes
the voices in my head escape.

[Confession] I am a recent librarian drop out, I made
the move from
the library world to the world 4 months ago. I
must admit it’s
great working at an internet start up, the long hours, the
constant flow of new employees, just the attitude
around here is so invigorating and exciting [quite the
opposite of what I’ve experienced in the library]. Here I
have a group of people that are responsible for
changing how companies are able to do business,
people that are shaping and changing the internet, it’s
quite exciting. Our services are used by a few million
people [Just over 4 million]. Our web pages are viewed
a few hundred thousand times a day. And yet this
single one paragraph story in a magazine carried
greater weight around the office than our 4 millionth
user. That struck me as being so strange! One tiny
page in one magazine got everyone more excited than
having 4 million people use our services!

Why is that? I would think most of the “kids” around
work just would not be impressed with a printed
magazine page. After all, magazines have been around
for decades, while the web is just moving into it’s
second decade. Magazines are old school, fading out,
not used, can be got on the web for free, just like books.
Why would I want to read a magazine, why would I PAY
to read a magazine if I can just get it free on the web?

After an exhaustive scientific study ( I walked around the
office till I was tired, then I sat down) I determined that
100% of employees still subscribe to
magazines. They still read books [though they don’t get
them from the library, sadly only 2 people even admit to
having a library card]. The PRINTED word , as opposed
to the displayed word, is still held in high regard, still
seen as more trusted, more useful, and more accurate
than the “stuff” on the web. As one person put it, “Any
one can put up a web page, but this is a real magazine,
not anyone can do that, it’s permanent”. Surrounded by
people responsible for shaping the internet, and
seeing how they see the printed word as being so
important still made this ol’ librarian happy.

So it may still be premature to call for the death of the
printed word, the library and even the book. If a bunch of “kids” still think a magazine is cool, it may just
turn out to be that print will remain cool for quite some
time to come.

My question for Ya’ll is..... What do the younger kids,
10-18 think of the printed word? Since they will decide
what is used and what is wasted in a few years, I’d be
interested to hear what they think.

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