Thursday, June 05, 2008

ReadyMade - digital vs. print.

I've long been torn by the divide between reading my media sources online or in print. Usually I prefer print editions, for sometimes silly reasons: I like getting ink on my hands, I like the portability, and I like being able to write and do crossword puzzles in the paper. In practice though, I get most of my news and other information online. It's nice because I'm not wading through piles of old papers and it's free, but there are still drawbacks.

When I used to pick up the local paper, I would thumb through nearly every section. I didn't read everything of course, but I did a quick scan of headlines and knew what was in there. Editorial decisions about which stories were above the fold were only made once a day. Meanwhile, at, headlines switch multiple times a day and the most read and e-mailed articles are prominently located on the side. Some might argue that this is perhaps more democratic, but it's hard to email articles to people when they are buried.

I'm getting away from the point here - which is to discuss that ReadyMade Magazine is now available online, for free! (Okay, and it has been since April, which is when I started this entry.) I've been a fan of this magazine for a while, but I never got around to getting a subscription. Soooo without further ado, a review of the latest online issue of ReadyMade.

One of the ingenious things about ReadyMade online is that instead of putting the article text and pictures on an entirely different looking webpage that is cluttered with side bar ads and other junk, the online version looks like the magazine. Of course, this includes everything, including the full page ads, so it's a bit annoying when pop up ads show up on top of that. The two page spread displays nicely across my browser, and the zoom navigation is pretty intuitive. There are a few drawbacks to this, of course - I had to read the up and down pages on packing tips sideways.

The other thing that the online version does well is to make good use of the tools available in the medium. You no longer have to type in the address of that site you read about, you can just click it! Want to read that article they mention in the editor's page? Don't worry about paper cuts, just click on the number!

What is it missing? The fact that it's an actual magazine, of course. For many obvious reasons that I've already touched on and more (portability, cuttability, loanability), reading a magazine online is just not as exciting as holding it in one's hands.

But is that excitement worth the $5 cover price and the hassle of storing it later? Probably not. The truth is, I really enjoy having easy access to ReadyMade once again - even when I used to buy it from the newsstands, it wasn't exactly easy to find. And though it's not quite as exciting as getting a nice colorful magazine from the store or in the mail, I will happily read it online again.

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