Is print dead? Is it time to cease publication of Prometheus, its role no longer valid in the age of the internet? These are questions I ask myself as I prepare each issue, and that I now state in public, as I lean towards the affirmative more and more. This issue possibly may be one of the last print publications I produce. Although the annual costs are not staggering, they present a large portion of the LFS’s annual budget. Is there any worthwhile return on this investment? Original content is minimal, though certainly Prometheus provides a unique outlet in terms of libertarian publications. But cannot the internet do the same and more? Would not moving the newsletter to an online only edition make better sense in our online world? More questions here than answers.
Financially there would be minimal costs involved in a web presence. The savings appear substantial, and untold new readers would discover reviews about interesting books. Yet how would readers and members treat the new format? One of the benefits of membership is a subscription to Prometheus, and were it to move online, what extra benefits are there to membership in the LFS? If everything is online for free, do people have any incentive to join the LFS? Is voting for the Prometheus Award and/or Hall of Fame enough? Realistically I would have to say no, as the cost of the Advisory membership is such that not everyone would pay just to send in a ballot once a year. Also, would the newsletter be lost amid the clutter of the web and mail inbox, forgotten unlike a print newsletter that is physical and can be picked up and read at leisure? We are not the only organization/newsletter to ponder this issue. However, the LFS is unusual in that we are one of the few (or perhaps only) awards organization that actually publishes a newsletter.
In the 1990s the future was wired. Everyone needed a website, an online presence. Then the dot.com boom broke shortly after Y2K and 9/11, and while casualties litter the ground, the internet surged forward. Today we see terms such as Web 2.0 and social media thrown around with abandon. Static web pages have become relics of a bygone age. The current trends show Twitter, facebook, smart phones, and other rapid technology exist as ways to connect people to people, not people to destination sites.
The LFS has a website, although it currently is a very static site. Successful web pages these days are those that draw eyeballs, but more importantly interaction from visitors. Rather than try to scramble around for original content for the newsletter amid mostly reprints, I propose a greater focus on building up the LFS web site into a richer, more interactive location. As editor of Prometheus I find my position complex, as I am in effect advocating myself out of a position. I think it is high time to crowdsource the solution and spend our resources in building a better web experience, with multiple writers and editors. Feedback would be welcome—Prometheus will print your letter if you wish, or just send me a note to discuss the issue. Or better yet, good fresh content to publish here first.
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