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Who's Right, Steve or Martha?

Steve Ballmer, a clear expert in the field of computing, is now officially a media guru. At a recent speech, Ballmer claimed that in 10 years, all media will be digital, including all things print.

From the narrow world of technology, this is not an entirely ridiculous notion, though a recent survey by Visual Studio Magazine shows that for many subjects, readers prefer print to Web by a ratio of 2 to 1. Maybe in 10 years, that ratio will become even.

Outside of technology, Ballmer's prediction really starts to sound like that of an amateur. The No. 1 consumers of magazines in America are middle-aged mothers and grandmothers from the Midwest. Are all these women going to read their cooking and scrapbooking magazines online? Has Steve ever seen their collections of magazines? Has Steve seen how fat Martha Stewart Living (the magazine, not the woman) has been lately?

I see the future by looking at my own habits. For music, I have cassettes, albums, CDs, an iPod and, yes, about a hundred 8-tracks. I read incessantly -- on the Web, books I usually buy used, and enough magazines to clear a small rain forest. I love the Web and, in case you forgot, this little missive is entirely digital. And we're passionate about our Web sites.

But before you start believing that print is dead, think about how often you print PDFs and Web content. In fact, what we really need are Internet-specific printers so we don't have to ruin our eyes reading all day in 1024x768 pixels.

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/15/2007 at 1:15 PM


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