diversification of minds - conversation in processes
design for communities

Tokyo, 07.10 - 09.10 1999

10 09 am<Informationscapes>
Akio Nakamata, Book & Computer, Japan

Beyond environments of 'Paper Media'

I have been involved in editing the quarterly,'The Book & The Computer' since it's first edition in 1997. The magazine emerged as a venue for discussion, linking people who are involved in the printing and publication of conventional books and magazines and those involved in new forms of media working in the electronic publishing and computer network world.

From the beginning, I have been responsible for the'Study of Online Magazines' series. This series features and evaluates online magazines in Europe, the United States and Asia. The Internet's explosive popularity began in Japan around 1995 and by 1997 the Internet had become a form of mass media. The release of information through Web sites was not only an amateur activity- editors, journalists, designers and other professionals who were traditionally involved in newspapers, magazines, books and other forms of 'paper' media, began to look at this new way of publishing. Consequently, we too turned our attention to this type of hybrid paper-/computer- media.

Within two years, we featured eight online publications. They included well-known magazines such as 'Hotwired' and 'Salon' from the US as well as relatively unknown, smaller ones from Europe and Asia. Comparing these magazines, we discovered some quite conspicuously different characteristics between European, Asian and US publications. This concerned not only the content but also rather fundamental issues such as editing and interface techniques. These differences could not necessarily be explained by the fact that they were 'Internet Media'. Rather we had to assume that cultural differences in traditional media had been carried over to the Internet. Because national borders, language or cultural walls had often limited the circulation of traditional 'Paper Media', we had never noticed such differences before. When creating publications for the Internet, it is impossible to ignore these differences.

In 1998 we launched the 'The Book & The Computer' Web-site as an online journal to report on the changes occurring in printing cultures around the world and to offer an international forum for discussion. After a year, we noticed that it is not enough to simply transfer the magazine's printed version to HTML format. This autumn, we plan to introduce a new design. During my presentation, I would like to talk about our ideas in undertaking this change.

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