|Internet Essentials 101|
A few weeks ago I received a salutary reminder about what really matters to an on-line magazine.
Art Director and Web Administrator Suzanne Frisbee spent the summer supervising the building of a new family home and moving herself, her elderly aunt and mother into same. Careful and considerate person that she is, Suzanne organized her duties so that neither her family nor the magazine would suffer during the process.
So Suzanne would be at the keyboard somewhat less than the 24 hours a day demanded by maniacal editors and cybernet Scrooges everywhere. I'm a grown-up (according to my driver's license anyway); I could handle it.
Then I received the email about her throat infection -- the message in which Suzanne described a swelling the size of a golf ball on the side of her neck. As a friend, I was frantic. Did she get to the doctor? Did she get the right medications? Did she have plenty of soup in the house? Could her relatives help out with her mom and her aunt while she recovered?
But once assured on these points, a much more selfish voice began whispering in my inner ear. What would happen to the 'zine? Suzanne shared all the codes and "technical stuff" with Crescent Blues Senior Gargoyle Donna Andrews. But Donna's editor at St. Martin's Press was waiting impatiently for the final draft of Donna's second book.
And I don't know how to operate a file transfer protocol, much less an Include. I'm an EDIT-or, for crying out loud. I only learned what FTP means 15 minutes ago. Several months ago, Donna and Suzanne tried very hard to implement a Web-based assignments board, but it went nowhere, because the EDIT-or couldn't find her way to the URL two days running. Now the EDIT-or was about to find out what it meant to have her copy all dressed up with no place to go.
Internet pundits spend a lot of time arguing whether content or form should rule the Web. Most of them come down heavily on the side of content and the all-important story. Of course, most Internet pundits started life as editors in print publications before they lucked into the Web, and they remain just as ignorant as I am about the Web's programming end. Unlike me, however, most Internet pundits don't actually have to get their words on the street, in the hands or on the screens of their readers. Their forums pay them for content, not production.
As an old print editor, you won't find me dissing text. But as a publications designer and publisher, I know you need a medium to project or publish that text. I also know that when given the choice between two equally good stories, readers or viewers always choose the one with the most attractive presentation. Finally, I know there aren't enough hours in the day for one person -- or one type of person -- to do everything.
In short, the "text people" and the "tech people" need to work together for the Web and its various components to reach their full potential. Heaven knows, this 'zine won't reach you, our readers, without Suzanne, no matter how hard the writers work and editors polish.
Happy Labor Day, Suzanne. Very, very glad you're feeling better. And when you get the chance…congratulate yourself on a thousand jobs well done. Thanks.