From the Editor — August 2008

Like almost everyone else, we in the trade publishing business often wonder how we were able to do our jobs prior to the advent of the Internet. But when the World Wide Web first emerged as a viable entity, magazine publishers were wary and unsure of how to integrate the Internet into publishing. Thus, publishers' f

Like almost everyone else, we in the trade publishing business often wonder how we were able to do our jobs prior to the advent of the Internet. But when the World Wide Web first emerged as a viable entity, magazine publishers were wary and unsure of how to integrate the Internet into publishing. Thus, publishers' first forays into Web publishing were … well, tentative. Early Web sites were the digital "bait" used to attract visitors to the printed originals. Some publishers put their content online, some didn't. Some restricted access to online content, some didn't. In any case, most magazine Web sites said, "Hey, we're digitally hip," but not much more.

As the Web evolved and the 21st Century arrived, magazine publishers began to see the Web site's inherent value, even if only as an ancillary product of the magazine. Whatever was done online was an extension or development of some in-print feature of the magazine, involving either editorial or advertising. In parlance we all are familiar with, it became a "value-added" medium.

Today, however, we have an entire generation of trade professionals (engineers, designers, administrators, managers) who not only grew up with the Internet, but interact with it and source from it in ways that editors like me are only starting to appreciate. As a result, the relationship between a magazine and its Web site is changing. Today, folks like me understand that as an information delivery medium, magazines have to use a variety of tools to provide information in ways that our readers want and prefer.

In the publishing world, this is called integrated media. It means that we provide a mix of multiple, interrelated products, each with its own mission and each capable of fulfilling that mission independent of the others. We offer a printed magazine for those who like printed magazines, an e-newsletter for those who like e-newsletters, a trade show for those who like trade shows and conference programs for those who like conferences. And we provide a Web site where these products converge, sometimes sharing content (altered slightly to meet the needs of each product) and at other times offering different but complementary content that broadens our reach and vastly increases our ability to meet the needs of you, our readers.

Recently, we threw another product into the media mix: The COMPOSITESWORLD Forum. It's part of the newly redesigned COMPOSITESWORLD Web site (www.compositesworld.com) and provides a way for readers to post and respond to questions and comments. The CWForum covers a number of composites-related topics, such as materials, design, tooling and processing. If you're having a problem getting full wetout with an RTM process, for example, you can post it in the CWForum and solicit feedback. If you're running into design challenges that have you stumped, you can ask other readers for input. If you're looking for that rare, one-of-a-kind tool or piece of equipment that you just can't track down, the CWForum might help you find it. In all cases, the CWForum can help you tap into the collective wisdom of thousands of experienced composites professionals. Along the way, almost anything else is fair game: opinions, rants, and questions about a raft of issues: import and export policies, mold-prep procedures, testing standards, government regulation, market conditions, future predictions, war stories (funny and not-so-funny), lessons learned, tips 'n' tricks, brags ...… heck, even jokes.

Using the CWForum is simple: Go to www.compositesworld.com, click on "Forums," click on the registration link to get signed up (no charge, of course), create your CWForum login, and then you're set. You can post your questions or comments and respond to those posted by others in the composites world as often as you like. I encourage you to log on today and join the COMPOSITESWORLD Forum community. I'll be logged on myself, regularly. Hope to read you there.