Netly: The Third Screen

TechCrunch riffs on the eternal question: Will e-mags have links?

Posted on: October 18, 2009

ianlinesMy erstwhile confederate Erick Schonfeld over at TechCrunch, takes me to task for arguing that digital magazines will not behave like websites—that is, they will not have links:

If the Web has taught us anything it is that information does not exist in a vacuum. An article without links is a dead story. An interesting artifact perhaps, but not something that will engage and delight the modern reader, who finds information these days by following links or passing them around. If you close the door to the Web, you’ll only be locking yourself in.

I worked with Erick for years and believe that he is almost always the smartest guy in the room. As usual, he makes some great points here. And, in a hypothetical world—where we’re talking about ideas and have nothing concrete to look at and dissect, I believe him…

But, brother, let me tell you: I just got back from a week at the mother ship in NY, where I’ve been watching a few digital magazine experiments take shape over the past four months, and I am more convinced than ever that readers will not miss links…IF we’re able to achieve in reality what we can do in prototype. Erick’s CD-ROM analogy has been haunting me ever since we first discussed it some time ago, and the teams that have been working in NY are putting together products that are exceptionally fluid and elegant that manage to keep the reader within the “appgazine,” delivering a great, focused experience.

The only thing I am 100 percent sure of at this point, is there’s no right answer—yet. I expect that, as powerful third-screen tablets evolve, e-magazines—and by “magazine” I mean packaged, curated, vertical, periodical content—will evolve right along with them. And some will use links and be browser based while others will function as downloadable, updatable apps. At this point, I’m strongly advocating the non-browser approach since what we’re able to achieve, once freed from that frame, is so much cooler in every way.

Mainly though, I’m thrilled that Erick agrees that magazines will survive in some form.

2 Responses to "TechCrunch riffs on the eternal question: Will e-mags have links?"

My belief is that content will be cohesive and editorial in nature with side content that is more web-like in nature. Users want content, and half the time the web content is simply a way to get more clicks than to provide relevant content. So I agree in some ways.

I posted on TechCrunch, and will provide some more commentary later.

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