Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Inevitable with the narrow-casting of magazines that Germany now has a magazine about divorce.

Reminds me of the launch of a magazine in the US for gay parents. (Apologies for this being a Times Select link.)

These magazines, Rosenkrieg along with And Baby magazine, show how publishers often miss obvious socioeconomic groups due to prejudices or oversight.

Both gay parents and divorcing couples are willing to pay large sums of money for information relating to their situation and there are many advertisers keen to hit those demographics. For years, however, no magazines addressed those issues.

Be interesting to compare the categories of popular Blogsites with the available publications to see where the low barriers to entry of Blogs has discovered a demographic ripe for a glossy publication.

This once again shows the strength of interacting with consumers (readers) during conception of a project.


I wonder when online interest/purchase profiles will come together with the concept of a "magazine" and create personalized online publications which react to the reader's changing preferences by changing the content offered to them. I've seen a lot of ways web surfers can opt in to receive information from sources they like, and some small options for personalizing news pages, but nothing quite as aggressively tailored as what I'm envisioning. It doesn't seem like a very great leap from the way sites tracks web surfing habits via cookies/adware (although I'm unsure how the sea of information you'd be pulling from would get created, approved, and categorized). This seems like more of a perpetual interaction with the customer, rather that an occasional narrowing of focus to play to fringe audiences that aren't already covered. If this could be pulled off, I don't see how print could match it.

Then again, before Amazon had a huge file on me I used to think that I was somewhat unique but now realize that there are a great many people out there interested in the same strange things I am. Perhaps general groups such as "gay parents" really do fit reality more than playing to individual quirks and interests.

I sometimes wonder how much personalization of content is healthy. When it's very easy to find things you like or agree with, it takes effort to force yourself to read totally different material. I bet many college graduates here could recall pointless courses they were forced to take, but will also come up with an example of an unlikely diamond in the rough.

I can feel a "copyfight" magazine coming on...

Anyway, who says magazines have to be glossy? A List Apart ( bills itself as a magazine (complete with ISSN), but it is an online publication for web developers.

Laconic: I agree with your worries about too much narrowcasting making media give us what we want to see rather than reality. On the other hand, it is easy to imagine personalization over time.

If you are Time Warner, wouldn't you want to grab a readership while it is young, get to know it and provide a stable of publications as that person grows up? Following the divorce subscription (which probably would only last a year or so) that same person should be a good target for magazines on how to look good and meet the (next) right person.

I am sure publishers must do that with a series of magazines for young people that follows them as they get older, I just don't know any concrete examples.

Narowcasting is just beginning; soon the internet will enable 'narowliving'. Narrowliving is where you are able to filter out every single opposing position to your own form the media that you consume. Essentially individuals will be able to refine their own intake of media to a point where their own beliefs, no matter how skewed, are constantly reinforced by the media they are exposed to. Narrowcasting a'la FOX is already legitimizing and reinforcing the points of view of conservative Americans. Soon media will function as an ideological yes man. This has the potential to be very bad.

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Joi Ito has a post on Narrowcasting, which is the production and distribution of niche media to small highly targeted audiences. The technological advances in printing and on-line publishing is making this possible and I am very skeptical of what Read More