Posted: 30 April 2012
Is The Idealist’s diversification onto the web the worst timed expansion ever? Quite probably
The first proper online article, one of many to come. So let’s start as we mean to go on, something deep, profound and emotional. Well as about as emotional as I get.
Yesterday’s Wikipedia ‘black-out’ got me thinking, not only about how news stories researched yesterday might actually be based on proper facts or ‘where are we meant to find out what year that Madonna song, the one with the crows and dogs in the video, came out?’, but what would it be like to live without something I take for granted every day.
Obviously, I thought about my family and friends first… briefly. Then I immediately started thinking about the physical possessions I use every day that I put so much emphasis on. I am, undoubtedly, materialistic. Materialistic and proud. I hold my possessions in much higher esteem than I do most people. A lot of the things that I own are far more valuable to me than they would be to anyone else. Not because many of them hold any sentimental value, I don’t really do sentiment or schmaltz, but because I own them and I’ve looked after them. I want all my physical possessions to remain in their perfect, factory fresh state. For example: at the slightest hint of any physical, hands-on work my watch comes straight off and is wrapped in some soft cotton fabric before being stashed somewhere safe. My phone lives in a leather sheath so when it’s not in my hand it doesn’t get scratched and is never put down on a hard surface without it’s leather protector underneath it. The 4-point harness in my car leaves oily marks on my clothes, so I place a sacrificial cloth between the buckle and the item of clothing I am wearing (despite what colour said item is; black, brown, navy, yellow or white) so it doesn’t get stained. While on the subject of my car, when closing the door I still use the door handle so as not to touch any of the paint. I also park in some extreme ways so that my car is as far away from as many other cars and their wayward, damaging doors as possible. More importantly than what I do is why I do it, it’s not (only) because any repairs or replacements of my possessions would be expensive but because the magnitude of my distress would be inexplicable if they were damaged.
I sound like a freak, I know. But, I think fastidiously looking after my possessions is a noble thing. Being materialistic is often seen as a negative. I imagine the people who demand new, up-to-date, expensive items to keep them happy are what’s done it, but they aren’t really materialistic. They are nobs. Their emphasis is on what their material possessions say about them not necessarily what they mean to them.
Couple this idea of materialism with the transition of The Idealist becoming a predominantly online magazine and I came up with this question: would anyone ever put anywhere as much emotional emphasis onto a website as they would onto something physical? Would anyone care as much about a webpage as they would a magazine?
No one can crease the pages of a website, spill coffee on it or read it while wearing sun cream and blur all the text. You don’t need to care as much, a webpage can’t be damaged. Or can it? What someone could do is change the law and make the way a lot of websites work now, illegal. Essentially changing and damaging some of the best bits of the internet. Enter, SOPA and PIPA; the online IP and copyright legislation that Wikipedia are/were protesting about. Initially these new SOPA and PIPA bills that the US want to pass didn’t seem like they would affect The Idealist’s expansion online. With the extent and ruthlessness with which they want to enforce these laws, even though we are situated in the UK and the fact we would be posting and publishing original content, it could still be a problem.
If online content becomes overly regulated, would this mean a revolution in printed news and entertainment? Maybe. Is The Idealist’s diversification onto the web the worst timed expansion ever? Quite probably.
Fortunately though, we are going to keep all bases covered and do both. We will continue to print a magazine (probably at the same sporadic and elongated intervals) and keep you frequently supplied with quality online content too.