From the Editor — September 2008
About once a month, I get into a low-grade argument with an elderly acquaintance, who likes to tell me what a complete flop the Internet is. He calls it overrated, disorganized, unhelpful, inaccurate, difficult to navigate, a barrier to human-to-human communication and the cause of broad and growing ignorance thro
About once a month, I get into a low-grade argument with an elderly acquaintance, who likes to tell me what a complete flop the Internet is. He calls it overrated, disorganized, unhelpful, inaccurate, difficult to navigate, a barrier to human-to-human communication and the cause of broad and growing ignorance throughout human society. Taking the bait each time, I like to point out to him the Internet's attributes and usually end by comparing how the Internet, and Internet-based communications, have completely transformed work life around the world.
Indeed, 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 almost as wary as my elderly foil and unsure of how to integrate the Internet into publishing. Thus, their first forays into Web publishing were tentative, to say the least. 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 Web sites' inherent value, even if only as an ancillary product of the printed 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 information delivery mediums, magazines have to use a variety of tools to provide information in ways that our readers want and prefer.
Recently, we threw another product into the media mix: The COMPOSITESWORLD Forum. It's part of the newly redesigned COMPOSITESWORLD Web site 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. It 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: In the toolbar at the top of this page, 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.