Take our site -- Please!
Did you know you can mirror SunWorld Online to your internal server? If you need snappier response, this could be the way to go
How to mirror SunWorld Online to your internal Web server; plus meditations on our new advertising, the difficulty of e-mailing magazines, and the desirability of making lots of mistakes, fast. (1,500 words)
I just spent a few minutes browsing through SunWorld Online -- in Poland. It's at Warsaw University's supercomputer center. You can check it out yourself at http://sunsite.icm.edu.pl/sunworldonline/ --if you're in the U.S. you'll get a chance to see how slow transatlantic transmissions can be.
Which is the point: The Poles asked to mirror SunWorld Online locally so they don't have to wait for bits from across the Atlantic Ocean. Now it's a continental call for Europeans. And we have Holland and German mirror sites about to go up. The Holland site is a naval weapons lab and the Germain is a Sun clone maker.
This is fun. We had international circulation as a print magazine, but it was limited to a few hundred brave souls by high cost and slow delivery. Now readers are limited only by access to a Web browser and a tolerance for stuff written in English. The incremental cost to us is trivial. Our advertisers, most of whom do a good chunk of business outside the U.S., get some presence overseas. I'm happy, you're happy.
You could be happier, maybe, and here's how: by mirroring our magazine in your internal Web network at your company or organization. Why would you want a mirror site? For faster response -- your access to the outside Net probably gets bottlenecked more than access to your internal network. If a firewall keeps you from browsing the outside Net from work, a copy of SunWorld Online hosted on an internal server is available to all without security hassles. And if our servers are overloaded, you have an alternative.
All it takes is your webmaster getting a hold of our chief science officer, firstname.lastname@example.org (or 415-974-7313) and making arrangements. All it costs you is a regular report on how much use it gets. (This report is simple and need contain no sensitive info.)
If this is useful to you, we hope to hear from you.
How do you like the ads?
You'll see lots more advertisers this month. How do you like how we're handling them? Advertising can be useful and even interesting -- when it's not in the way and slowing things down. We try to make the ads readily available without bogging you down with oversized GIFs. And we encourage our advertisers to take this opportunity to offer our highly qualified readership (that's you) real info -- detailed product descriptions, spec sheets, white papers, persuasive arguments -- as well as access to the vendor's home pages. You tell me if what we're doing works for you.
I hate the "jumping bean" ads I see in some pubs. Because the publisher can't really predict how many people will look at a given article in any issue, publishers play defensively by moving ads all around so they'll all have a chance to be in the busiest areas as well as the backwaters of the publication. Some want you to see a different advertisement every time you show up. I find that unnerving. Ads don't move when I'm reading paper magazines. I wonder if others feel the same way.
To solve the publisher problem without mystifying the reader, we've devised a package deal for advertisers in SunWorld Online. Instead of one ad, they get a couple of regular-sized ad banners and several smaller ads I call "brighteners." We scatter them around the magazine. You'll see them here and there, the stories wrapped around many of them just as a magazine "wraps" editorial around advertising. That way an advertiser gets to meet readers in different parts of the publication.
We try to make clear which things are ads -- I personally like ads, of course, but I want to know that what I'm looking at is an ad. I don't care -- I just want to know. I am annoyed when I can't tell the difference -- aren't you? That's why we've labeled some "advertising." What do you think? Send me e-mail.
Why we didn't e-mail you this issue
Some have asked to have SunWorld Online, or selected articles, sent to them by e-mail, in ASCII or ftp-able in Postscript or in Adobe PDF format. This would indeed be convenient for many, but it makes problems for us at this point. Online magazines don't have widely accepted methods yet of demonstrating value to the advertiser -- BPA (the Business Press Association) is still working on devising readership analysis methods equivalent to those of a controlled circulation magazine.
So all we have to sell ads on -- and generate revenues from -- is the responsiveness of our readers to advertising. We think online readers can be more responsive than readers of paper mags, because it's so much easier to respond when you're online. In fact, we dub the features of our magazine that make it so reader-responsive with the trademark "Just a Click Away." If an ad intrigues you while you're reading, you just click on it to go to a staging or buffer page with more information, or to the advertiser's own site. You can send e-mail to an advertiser or a vendor mentioned in a story or new product announcement directly from your browser -- no need to pick up the phone or tear out a business reply card. (No more business reply cards falling out of SunWorld and into your lap!) Bringing the reader that much closer to the vendor suggests that online technical publications are likely to increase responsiveness.
But if I send you the magazine and you read it off-line, that dampens response. (Even when you print an article and read it later, that dampens response too -- we can see that in the response ratios to those little quizzes we have at the end of every story.)
We have 5,000 regular readers who have registered to get our e-mail reminders, filling out a demographic questionnaire in the process. That is a very powerful way of reassuring advertisers that they're in the right publication. But we have 50,000 more readers and no demographics on them! So we can't afford the dampened response alternative delivery methods create until we either have enough readers registered, or new technology fixes the problem. Which is in part a plea to PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!
Netscape 2 may help because I understand it has built-in e-mail with a feature that lets you point to a link and follow it directly from the e-mail. That would be a big plus, though the great variety of Web browser capabilities makes it hard for a publisher in this market to take full advantage of new browser technology too early in the cycle. Hmmm.
Drop me a line
Readers are the key to any successful publication, so editors and publishers always love getting mail from readers. In online publishing, it's even more important -- let's face it, we're guessing at how to present information in this new medium, and we'll only get it right if you talk to us. As management guru Tom Peters puts it, in times of chaos the winner is the one who makes mistakes faster than anybody else. We're busily making mistakes as fast as we can over here, so let us know promptly what we're doing right, what we're doing wrong -- in your unabridged opinion. We DO read everything we get from readers, and we respond pretty much to everything. Write me at email@example.com or to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And tell all your friends about us. About the
Michael McCarthy is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of SunWorld Online.
If you have technical problems with this magazine, contact email@example.com