They all share several key features: content customization,
social sharing and “always-on” publishing. This set of common
features is what defines the magazine revolution.
TECHNOLOGY IN PRACTICE. WHAT WORKS? WHO GETS IT?
New Apps Reinvent the Magazine
By Erik L. Mazzone
W HEN YOU HEAR THE WORD MAGAZINE, chances are that the image that pops into your head is of something very much like the paper
periodical you are most likely holding right now. Smaller than
a newspaper, organized around a single subject and published
on a regular schedule. Glossy pages filled with articles, columns,
photos and advertisements.
According to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke,
the world’s first magazine was published in Germany in
1663 and was called Edifying Monthly Discussions. I’m
sure it was a real page-turner. The magazine industry
didn’t really take off until 1731, when the first general
interest magazine, titled The Gentleman’s Magazine, was
published in England. (I assume gentleman’s magazine
had a different and less lurid connotation than it does
now. But who knows? The Victorians wouldn’t show up
for another 100 years to shut down all the fun.)
By now you may justifiably be wondering, “Where
is he going with this, and why am I reading this in
Here’s why. As it has done with industry after indus-
try, the Internet has drastically altered the landscape for
magazine publishing—it’s a veritable magazine revolu-
tion. The future of the magazine is upon us, and it is all
about customization. Or, as it is sometimes titillatingly
referred to, assembling “roll-your-own” magazines.
These roll-your-own magazines—apps, really—are big
wins for readers of all stripes, and lawyers are no exception. The apps are free, beautiful, easy to use and offer access to
an astounding diversity of content. As lawyers and law firms turn
increasingly to Web publishing as a means of branding and business development, these apps also offer a new opportunity to consider in producing and syndicating law firm content.
Three apps in particular dominate the early days of this magazine revolution: Zite ( zite.com), Flipboard ( flipboard.com) and
Google Currents ( google.com/producer/currents). They look
nice on smartphones, but these things were born to be displayed
on tablets. Each of the apps has its own flavor and array of positives and negatives, sort of like different hotel chains all offer
different approaches to hospitality but are in the same business.
In years past you probably subscribed to several magazines. Perhaps
a weekly news magazine, such as Time; a monthly political or cultural magazine, such as The Atlantic; and a few special-interest
magazines for cooking, fitness, travel or the like, to say nothing of
the professional periodicals you received. When you picked up an
issue, if the magazine was one of your favorites, you might find 50
or 60 percent of the content interesting. If not one of your favorites,
maybe only one or two articles would hold your interest.