7: Episode IV: A New Hope

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Jason Snell just left his editorial career of 20 years, most of it spent at IDG, and most of that at Macworld magazine. He's happily retooling his professional life to meet his interests: expanding The Incomparable network of pop-culture podcasts; launching Six Colors, his editorial site featuring reviews and reporting about technology, centered around Apple; and co-hosting the Clockwise and Upgrade podcasts on Relay.fm. He tells us about rebooting and starting new things.

Glenn Fleishman, your loyal host of The Periodicalist, is shutting down The Magazine after 18 months of ownership and trying to make it thrive. He's learned a lot that he shares in this episode. He's also recently put The New Disruptors podcast on hiatus after nearly two years of weekly episodes, when sponsorship flagged. Glenn talks about the joy of ending things when the time comes, and some of his thoughts about the future.

Jason and Glenn spend the first half of this episode reviewing why periodicals, including the IDG empire, couldn't escape the innovator's dilemma, and see the freight train of the Internet bearing down on them; and the second half, looking into the limitations of the current methods of reaching readers and listeners. Their conclusion: email newsletters and podcasts still have a lot to offer.

The Periodicalist is an irregularly produced series looking for a sponsor to help underwrite regular production of episodes. We would love to find a partner that wants to feature the podcast as part of their larger efforts at looking forward at the future of publishing. Get in touch if you're interested.

Show notes

  • Pat McGovern was the beloved founder of IDG, genuinely well liked and respected. He died in early 2014.

  • Glenn's long-time editor at the Economist, Tom Standage, wrote Writing on the Wall: Social Media — the First 2,000 Years (2013), which explains the remarkable predecessors of what we think of as modern social networks.

  • This marvelous obituary of Carl Schlesinger, a New York Times typesetter, tells of his role in capturing the last night of hot-lead typesetting at the Times. He later became an amateur tap dancer.

  • Subscribe to Lisa Schmeiser's newsletter, "So What, Who Cares?"

  • Ben Thompson has built a nice business, Stratechery, on writing smart things and offering an affordable subscription to his analysis.

  • The death of the Web/rise of apps news cycle featured the Wall Street Journal's Chris Mims' provocative "The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It"; a rejoinder at Quartz by Zach Steward, "The web is alive and well"; and John Gruber's dissection of Mims' story at Daring Fireball, "Native Apps Are Part of the Web."

  • Marco Arment created the Overcast app for podcast discovery, subscriptions, and listening. I highly recommend it.

  • Monument Valley is a lovely game that recently added an expansion set of levels.

  • The Magazine adopted TypeEngine as its app in the summer; TypeEngine is an periodical publishing platform that pushes to custom apps.

  • Windows 93 is an excellent parody of what Windows 95 would have looked like in 1993, constructed entirely in JavaScript.

Posted on November 23, 2014 and filed under Publishing, Self-publishing, Freelancing.