Using LJ for an Online Magazine
In a post here green_amber
speculates about producing a paper zine from some of the better LJ posts. This got me thinking about whether LJ would be a suitable format for publishing online mags, and I've come to the conclusion it would be. First though, a quick detour down memory lane to remind me of what was good and bad about producing a diskmag like ShareWorld.
A diskmag, (in ShareWorld's case, an Amiga one on floppies), sits somewhere between publishing a mag online and producing one on paper. Like a paper zine it can be given to someone in person or via snail-mail, but unlike the paper version it needs a computer to read it. So no matter how flash you might make the disc's labels, it just isn't a match for paper as a medium. If a paper mag's discovered years later you can instantly get into it. This ain't the same with Amiga floppies no more I'm afraid, or any format that requires a machine to read it. (flick
is best placed to say how similar or otherwise the content of ShareWorld was to the fanzines Green Amber's discussing.)
But, going by Green Amber's post and its many replies, there were similarities between producing a dismag and a paper zine, one being the actual physical act of producing something real. Having completed a ShareWorld, I then had to duplicate X floppies of it, label them, put them in envelopes, address and stamp the envelopes, add short or long letters to each envelope, then post them. This could take a few days, depending on how late I'd been up the previous week trying to finish the damn thing. A lot of pointless extra work compared to sticking something online, but much more personal, and most everyone who received the mag replied, thus making it worth the effort.
Oh yes, and with me being a programmer, I eventually added a little program to allow people to give a rating to each article in the mag, along with any comments they wanted to say about the article. Shades of the LJ replies there. These were added to the next issue. (The mag itself was produced using a shareware program.)
There's another difference between paper and disk though, and that is the diskmag can easily be copied and spread around and people were encouraged to do so. No limited production runs with them and no control over whose hands they ended up in. This makes them closer to publishing online than on paper, in that anyone may end up reading them.
And that ends the short trip down memory lane for you... :-)
So to using LJ for publishing a magazine. Firstly, my definition of a magazine is something that comes out periodically, so a community that allows posts any old time, even if they're edited posts, doesn't to my mind equal a magazine. Thus I'd expect an LJ zine to appear every month or whatever, with comments on the articles being allowed to be added whenever people liked, but with no new articles appearing till the next issue came out.
Now an obvious problem with this is how to turn posts into articles in the same "issue". They'd of course be posted all on the same day, (this being the editor's job), but people wouldn't want them all to suddenly appear in their friends' pages. What they'd want would be just a front-page containing an index to the articles (ie, individual posts.) That'd let them know the mag was out and they could straight away click on what first interests them.
To achieve this, I'd suggest having two journals - one where the front-page/index-page was posted and another where the articles themselves are posted. People would then just friend the front-page journal as well as using it to find the back-issues.
So, unless I've overlooked something, a more or less typical magazine could be created using LJ in its current format.
Comments welcome, and anyone's free to use the idea if they think it'd work for them.