Mygazines.com could survive Darwin’s doom
In the world of paleontology they're called "missing links," half-reptile/half-mammal or half-ape/half-human creatures that served as short-term evolutionary pivot points and are no longer around (with apologies to the duck-billed platypus and whoever's using the summer doldrums to hawk the latest Bigfoot hoax).
But the Digital Age has its own version of doomed, unsung transitional mechanisms. They're called peer-to-peer computer networks.
Like their natural-science cousins, P2Ps bridge gaps, in this case between the media's old analog era and whatever will eventually evolve in the 21st-century Information Age.
Like any missing link, P2Ps often burn brightly for geologically brief moments, as if to illustrate what is possible, only to get quickly slammed into an evolutionary dead end by natural predators known as "attorneys."
If lawyers had been around during the late Jurassic period, dinosaurs would've sued the half-dino/half-bird Archaeopteryx into extinction for copyright infringement long before Mother Nature could get a clear shot.
Though not technically a P2P, the file-sharing service Napster was the first such genetic mutant to reach acclaim, only to be pounded into a fossil faster than you can say Recording Industry Association of America.
Still, other file-sharing services followed in Napster's footsteps, usually right down to that last, fatal one. Grokster, dead. KaZaA, dead. eDonkey2000, dead.
Yet with each mutation, these missing links seem to learn how to adapt and survive a bit longer.
Take mygazines.com. Somehow, users of this service are able to blatantly upload entire magazines, with a simple, effective interface that allows the rest of us to browse titles, turn pages and zoom in and out.
How? Well, as Stephanie Condon reports for CNet.com, the site is registered in the Caribbean nation of Anguilla and hosted in Sweden, countries well out of the traditional range of U.S. corporate legal teams.
But that hardly means publishers are giving up. Like any survival-of-the-fittest contest, the stakes are huge.
For fashion institutions like Ralph Lauren and Gucci, the space they buy in Vogue and Glamour aren't just ads, they're opening ceremonies. Page after foldout page shows beautiful models posing next to large metallic objects and/or rustic Central American architecture -- seemingly for no reason.
Though this is likely news only to my fellow Digital Slobs, the 264-page August issue of Vogue doesn't get to its table of contents until Page 47, and the ad-to-editorial ratio barely improves from there.
Imagine a two-hour movie with 21 minutes of previews -- no, never mind, that happens all the time. OK, imagine a Bugs Bunny cartoon that takes two hours to watch because 90 percent of the time you're being inundated by commercials.
Regardless, Vogue and other 20th-century media mainstays presumably want to sell more ads -- for their Web sites -- and not have everything they print slapped on some third-party site and made available for free.
Sounds fair enough. But if Discovery Channel nature shows have taught me anything, it's that in battles for supremacy, fair has nothing to do with it.