Pondering the future, and the past
Recently, the offices of ComputerUser witnessed some shuffling as desks were heaved from one space to another and files underwent spring cleaning a few months late. As part of this Herculean effort, I was charged with sorting and moving the magazine’s archives. My belief that this is a fairly paperless office was forever changed as I took trips down the hallway all day, arms laden with more than 20 years worth of technology journalism.
In one sweep, I saw how much the field has changed, and more than that, how ComputerUser has evolved. The publication started life as a few sheets from a dot-matrix printer, stapled together and given out to fellow computer enthusiasts. Through two decades, it reported on wave after wave of innovation, from the rise of Apple to the tangle of broadband, from the introduction of Linux to the spread of identity theft.
The range of subjects, and the way they were tackled, were impressive, to say the least. After all, in many ways, technology is a wily beast. It keeps changing direction and dodging its observers. Just as you’re about to place your order for an iPod, there comes a new iPod that glows in the dark. Just when you think tablet PCs are the next revolution, consumer adoption for them gets sluggish. This is what makes technology so difficult to cover, and also so enjoyable.
As ComputerUser ponders ways to keep up with the shifting field, it has to be fairly quick-footed as well. This means responding to the industry with all the enthusiasm of a scrappy bantamweight and the wisdom of a seasoned trainer. I could throw a few more Rocky references in for good measure, but you get the idea, and besides, my arms are still tired from lifting all those magazines. I’ll only say that to stay relevant, a magazine needs to keep changing, and that’s just what we plan to do.
In the next few months, our wizard of the Web — "webmaster" is so 1998, don’t you think? — will be trying out some new ideas with design. In the meantime, the edit staff is putting our freshly cleaned desks to good use, as we sketch out different possibilities for the site and the print edition alike.
Change shouldn’t happen in a vacuum, however. No matter how bright the road ahead may be, there should always be a glance backward to acknowledge the past. Making sure our archive is secure wasn’t done just so we can get nostalgic at the annual holiday party and pull out a 1985 article that was especially well loved. Even in the dizzying and fast-paced tech world, keeping a sense of the past is necessary. If that means a few tough trips down the hallway on moving day and some sore muscles the next day, it’s a small price to pay for keeping history intact.
So, as ComputerUser treks forward, we can only say thanks to our readers for being part of our past, and we’re happy to have you along for our future. As they say in the TV biz: stay tuned.