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Circling the drain: Why I feel like not buying the mag anymore...

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Also, I know people have mentioned that they'd write for free, but there's a couple of serious issues with that. When I'm paying a writer, I can chase them up on an article, and properly castigate them if it's late. If someone's just doing me a favour, then I have less leeway, and the writer has less motivation to get something done. I've seen it happen; you're expecting a feature, it doesn't come in, and the writer says 'aw yeah, I got busy with real work that pays'. Pisses me off, leaves the mag in the lurch, and is generally not fun for anyone.

Hey, you never had to castigate me!!!...fondle me occasionally yes, but I walked into that with eyes wide open and pants far down. ;)

 

I still have some thoughts around stuff I'd like to get put up on the site, and I'd waive the usual freelance writers fee of stale bread and water :P

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Thanks David, I appreciate your further comments. And fair enough on the insights you provided.

 

After I posted, I was thinking further about the dilemma and tradeoffs you must face. I'm thinking this is all about a choice on where you target... the harder "enthusiast" core, or the broader "general hobbyist" mainstream.

 

Ie, something like this...

 

Posted Image

 

 

So, when it comes to editorial direction, and thinking about how best to grow magazine's readership, you must have a choice of two competing strategies...

 

Posted Image

 

 

Option 2 let's you access more readers - because it addresses a bigger potential audience. But it disenfranchises the hardcore enthusiasts for whom the magazine had the biggest appeal in the first place.

 

It's obviously a very difficult choice.

 

As your personal highly-paid marketing consultant, my advice is a third alternative.

 

 

 

 

.

Edited by just_some_guy

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Whatever happen to Chernobyl?

 

 

And please, get rid of the mugshots. Fair enough have one for dave - but the rest? No thanks. Less mugging, less forced attempts at humour, less shite. More tech.

 

Ugh i know. I HATE those mugshots. For some reason its like they are staring at me while im trying to read, which is quite disturbing while sitting on the crapper. I actually cover them with one hand while i read...

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Oddly enough, the idea of Ashton Mills watching me crap is kinda... compelling.

 

And JSG, there I was thinking "Wow, this is really interesting and well thought out - ooh, a link I wonder... oh. Snaps."

 

Yet, it's also highly accurate!

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>> I mean, how do you weigh up almost diametrically opposite levels of feedback, from equally passionate readers?

Have a look at the url of this thread. What are the 3 letters after the word atomic and what to they mean to YOU?

 

>>Atomic must be what most readers are wanting it to be; it was designed to be one thing when that market was ripe and fresh,

>>but that very market has changed and shifted considerably since that first issue.

>>It's changed more under my leadership

 

Have you removed the 3 words off the top of the mag cover?

I ask becasue my subs edition does not have any words on the cover.

If you did remove those 3 words from the cover would your new readers care?

--

Oh fuck no, they have, they are now a subtext under atomic rather than the top title. This happened about 30 issues ago (I checked my subscriber library)

 

 

This is one step on the slippery slope to

Posted Image

metropolitin pony club

 

*points eratically and twitches*

Edited by pappes

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Mobo manufacturers were praised when they allowed easier overclocking through software, yet it killed off a lot of the fun by taking away some of the risk, thereby throwing open the doors of our secret society to any riff raff that just happened to be walking past!

 

There's not much left that we can really muck around with.

 

Kudos to ASUS though for making a soundcard where you can change the Op amps though!

 

That's the Atomic way!

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JSG, there I was thinking "Wow, this is really interesting and well thought out - ooh, a link I wonder... oh. Snaps."

I'm thinking your third way could be to broaden slightly into general interest tech a bit... maybe segue with some bumf about how the atomic spirit is about more than maximum power computing; it's about cool tech and shit, and hey, everything has computers in it these days anyway. Tell me, what kind of computer enthusiast doesn't relish clever, funny and well-written articles about general tech?

 

I reckon a cool tech feature article per issue on something non-computer-centric could add a lot of interest; I reckon I'd prolly start buying the mag again to see what you guys would decide on each month... here's an example of a topic based on a bit of random browsing I did from Boingboing the other night which landed me at this awesome watch blog, via an example of the mind-boggling precision and originality of Urwerk. While there I learned of Max Hetzel's revolutionary pre-quartz Accutron, and had to delve much further... then there was quartz, which interestingly enough uses a little vibrating tuning fork too, but otherwise fundamentally differed... later the battle to get the first LED and LCD watches to market, the first plastic geartrains and the rise of Swatch who pinched the tech and marketed the buggery out of it as their own (remind you of anyone?), the 0.98mm thin Concord Delirium, and other wildly indulgent masterpieces of the high end on to a good long second look at 0.001mm tolerances of Urwerk... (one of their models winds via a pair of tiny pneumatic turbines, FFS!) There's no shortage of bloody impressive stuff to go on a wrist, and it's not all uber expensive. Now I want an Accutron... (they start around US$250 for a working one).

 

I reckon you could definitely get away with four or five detailed pages of, 'This month, atomic brings you the engineering art form of horology,' or whatever you else you reckon deserves a look. I'd say the go is just to try and convey why some folks are so passionate about various fields of tech. On that note, here's a nice article explaining the Accutron.

 

It could be a handy way to sidestep the fact computers are fast becoming boring commodity items and remain tapped into the lust for sexy hardware...

 

Posted Image

Edited by Kimmo

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That's not actually bad idea, Kimmo.

 

And pappes? Make more sense! 'Maximum Power Computing' was always a subhead to the masthead when I came on board, and I moved it back to the top during last year's redesign - it shifts down again occasionally when we have a big story we want to splash across the top, but it'll be back up top next issue.

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Hawkeye: glad you liked it :) The first two slides are serious, the kind of work I do with clients in fact. (The 3rd slide I just drew up for your entertainment.)

 

Two other interesting thoughts not represented on the slides:

 

1. I have a theory (only a theory) that hobbyists are in fact attracted to the hardcore, which can be seen as a 'more advanced plateau of the thing which they're generally interested in'. So featuring hardcore content may still attract your broader softcore audience.

 

2. I defined your audience as 'people who buy computer magazines'. But as Kimmo notes, computers are becoming commoditised, and so a broader universe 'people interested in consumer technology' might actually be the real starting point.

 

---

 

Kimmo: your idea (which I love) is a good example of the kind of technical content that could well appeal to the more general audience. And also, the 'consumer technology' though I alluded to in point 2 above.

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1. I have a theory (only a theory)

Is it bunnies?

 

Seriously, though, I think that broader tech story idea could easily fit in with an expanded X-ray. It's essentially a 'how shit works' piece, so adding a page or two and expanding the content area (the horology idea is in fact kinda cool) to broader tech areas seems a pretty good fit.

 

Hmm.

 

See? Feedback works!

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Thanks David, I appreciate your further comments. And fair enough on the insights you provided.

 

After I posted, I was thinking further about the dilemma and tradeoffs you must face. I'm thinking this is all about a choice on where you target... the harder "enthusiast" core, or the broader "general hobbyist" mainstream.

 

Ie, something like this...

 

Posted Image

 

 

So, when it comes to editorial direction, and thinking about how best to grow magazine's readership, you must have a choice of two competing strategies...

 

Posted Image

 

 

Option 2 let's you access more readers - because it addresses a bigger potential audience. But it disenfranchises the hardcore enthusiasts for whom the magazine had the biggest appeal in the first place.

You've forgotten a third group, which to be fair, was never really included, and probably for good reason: Hardcore professionals. Some of us graduated from hardcore enthausist (teen) to professionals (adult) whose lives pretty much solely revolve around computers and tech (software and hardware).

 

One of the Sys Admins at work approached me a few months back for a recommendation of a good (informative and enjoyable) tech magazine. I asked if she'd tried atomic. Her response was "oh that magazine is full of games and articles about overclocking your pc. It's for kids". She went on to explain how there's nothing out there (Australian based at least ;)) that suits a professional audience, allowing them to keep up to date and present the material in an engaging manager, yet not use prose more suited to teens and "hacker wannabes".

 

 

The whole disenfranchising the hardcore... From being around the forums for the least 7-8 years, I've seen the forum members grow from being "general hobbyists" to "hardcore enthusiasts" (still without realworld perspective mind you :p). They've outgrown atomic because of atomic, and don't even realise it. I say it's probably time they stop reading atomic and look elsewhere for more significant content. I get the impression current forum users want the magazine to grow with them, which doesn't make a lot of sense...

 

That said, I'm a software guy and atomic is a hardware magazine :p

Edited by kikz

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The growing 'maturity' of an audience is in fact another issue, kikz - glad you brought it up. Certainly, that generation that started reading atomic years ago has a very set view of the mag, but you know... it's also a little inaccurate. The idea that the mag was without production issues, for example, is - and I'm not trying to put anyone down here - I think, an example of glowing nostalgia getting in the way of accuracy, for example.

 

But for me, there's the issue of whether to grow with that audience, and therefore really shut the magazine out to new readers, or to keep the mag relatively open, and hope to expand the audience as older readers drop away to other titles.

 

Very few people read a single magazine for their entire adult life.

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The growing 'maturity' of an audience is in fact another issue, kikz - glad you brought it up. Certainly, that generation that started reading atomic years ago has a very set view of the mag, but you know... it's also a little inaccurate. The idea that the mag was without production issues, for example, is - and I'm not trying to put anyone down here - I think, an example of glowing nostalgia getting in the way of accuracy, for example.

 

But for me, there's the issue of whether to grow with that audience, and therefore really shut the magazine out to new readers, or to keep the mag relatively open, and hope to expand the audience as older readers drop away to other titles.

 

Very few people read a single magazine for their entire adult life.

Definitely. As you'll be well aware, when people grow in ability and expertise they become more focussed in their knowledge. Atomic has great success in giving hobbiest and (I believe) enthusiasts useful tech information at a introductory to moderate level. By staying at the at that level atomic is able to conver a wider range of topics and a larger audience. I don't think the mag can grow with the current and old reader base like some people would like. Circulation would certianly suffer as larger groups cannot be catered for.

 

Even if they're hard to find (usually have to be sourced from the US - eg code-magazine.com), content for the more experienced can be sourced.

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Very few people read a single magazine for their entire adult life.

I dunno about that.

 

I still get Silicon Chip which grew out of the ashes of many other Aussie electronics mags that I've been buying since I was a teenager.

 

(....and you know how long ago that was...........)

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Maybe a reason people don't read a single magazine for their entire adult life is that the magazines change.

 

Chicken?

 

Egg?

 

Omelette?

Edited by just_some_guy

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Maybe a reason people don't read a single magazine for their entire adult life is that the magazines change.

 

Chicken?

 

Egg?

 

Omelette?

People change/mature/evolve as well so it would be various factors involved in the total process.

 

RE: the food references ... Noodles are good too {:)

Edited by Waltish

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Maybe a reason people don't read a single magazine for their entire adult life is that the magazines change.

Possibly.

 

My example of SC hasn't changed much.....although instead of soldering lots of ICs on a board, we're programming Eproms!

 

I always though that change for changes sake was an exercise in futility.

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The growing 'maturity' of an audience is in fact another issue, kikz - glad you brought it up. Certainly, that generation that started reading atomic years ago has a very set view of the mag, but you know... it's also a little inaccurate. The idea that the mag was without production issues, for example, is - and I'm not trying to put anyone down here - I think, an example of glowing nostalgia getting in the way of accuracy, for example.

 

But for me, there's the issue of whether to grow with that audience, and therefore really shut the magazine out to new readers, or to keep the mag relatively open, and hope to expand the audience as older readers drop away to other titles.

 

Very few people read a single magazine for their entire adult life.

David, you need to tap into your readers.

 

Zebra can make Unix salsa and optical storage jive. iamthemaxx can make small business setups sing. I can and do virtualize systems, integrate OSS and Windows, and implement enterprise storage. kikz has his specialty, Mac Dude has another. Ashlar is a friggin' NetApp trainer - he knows filers and NetApp SANs like the back of his hand. If that's not hardcore, I don't know what is.

 

Not a one of your writers has that kind of real enterprise business experience.

 

Use us. We can't completely unfurl our knowledge on the forum because it lacks a Pro Forum (maxx has talked to you about this) but we can do wonders for your mag.

 

You have our emails.

Edited by Leonid

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Oh, it's stupidly hardcore, but my worries about getting people to effectively write for free still stand - and it's poor industry practice to boot.

 

That said, you're all pros in very different fields, and have obviously had to learn very different skills. One thing I can justify is - for instance - getting Sap to profile you and your careers, and where it stands in the wider IT industry, over a few Atomic.edus. I think that would kill two birds with one stone.

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Oh, it's stupidly hardcore, but my worries about getting people to effectively write for free still stand - and it's poor industry practice to boot.

 

That said, you're all pros in very different fields, and have obviously had to learn very different skills. One thing I can justify is - for instance - getting Sap to profile you and your careers, and where it stands in the wider IT industry, over a few Atomic.edus. I think that would kill two birds with one stone.

It doesn't have to be for free.

 

You could

 

a: pay us

b: provide us with some advertising

c: throw some kit our way

 

Atomic was founded against industry practice - a magazine for a core elite, not for the general geek who punches out a few command shell scripts to automate his taskbar.

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