Condé Nast: Slowly getting it?

We mentioned a Wired article purporting to explain why the Condé Nast magazine juggernaut is effectively absent from the online “space.” (Don’t you loathe that term? It’s almost as bad as “repurposing.” Or “content.”)

We are finally assured that the New Yorker actually will enact something other than its existing brochureware site. “It’s hard to say if our longest pieces would work on the Web, but the New Yorker is filled with all sorts of things that would work on a site – from cartoons to reviews to Talk of the Town – but what precisely we will do and what it will look like, well, bear with us a little while longer. No matter what we do, of course, the main preoccupation here will be the thing itself, the New Yorker that you get in the mail and on newsstands.”

God help us. Long text can work just fine online if presented with due understanding of the impediments involved in reading online. (Give it to us in chapters. Give us versions optimized for major and minor browsers. Provide versions with preset type and leading and with changeable type and leading.) And for heaven’s sake, while shovelware has its place, must exist on its own or you’re doomed.

Do we have to explain why? Funnelling people back to the print version is quintessentially American, a mass-media cœlecanth, a convergence manqué. That’s what CNN is trying to do, according to the Brill’s Content article. It ain’t gonna work. The best you can hope for is to make readers feel that both the online and print versions are right up their alley, however different they must necessarily be.

(David Cronenberg gets this right: A film adaptation of a novel must be unfaithful in order to do it justice. “I don’t think that any book is filmmable unless you shoot the pages of the book itself. I really think that the medium is so different.”)

Also, it has been revealed that CondeNet has a “relationship” with Blogger. (We’re not surprised: A CondeNet majordomotrix dropped a broad hint months ago that only now makes sense.)

It is not too late for Condé Nast to do things right online. The New Yorker plans do not, however, reassure us.

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