Is Poland A Writing Country?

Written by Adok

Is Poland a writing country? You ask yourself this question again and again after reading a Polish diskmag. In Poland there are many local disk magazines. Many of them feature 1.1 - 2.1 mbyte of articles per issue. That are sizes which are really incredible for international diskmags. There are mags with 300 articles. There are mags with 100 authors. Where does this activity of the Polish scene come from? And why do we know so few about these mags?

If you take a deeper glance into a Polish diskmag, your amazement diminishs slightly. As good as all articles are in Polish. And the quality of the articles is not always good. About some articles you can tell that they have a not-so-high quality even if you don't know the Polish language.

Still, I really admire the Polish diskmag scene! It should be a model for both our international demo diskmag scene and all other local diskmag scenes. Now I want to investigate where this activity comes from and why international diskmags, with a greater potential audience, don't have so active writers.

First of all, Polish diskmags are mostly in Polish language with very few English texts. Example: Wrotki #6 had a total of more than 2 mbyte of articles. But only three articles were in English, making less than 20 kbyte of English articles in total!

That's an extreme proportion. Of course it's easier to write in one's native language than in a foreign language. But most sceners don't have English as their native language. That's why it's harder and takes more time to write articles for an international mag in English language. In your native language, writers can write lots of smaller articles in a rather short time. Even not-so-skilled writers can do that, because the linguistic level of disk magazines is often not so high as the one of professional magazines. Moreover, diskmags always have editors who can do some bug-fixing.

The second thing is the Polish spreading web. There is an excellent web of swappers! They spread and collect votesheets of various diskmags, mostly via snailmail. They also spread the mag themselves, collect and forward articles. But this web is local. That's also the reason why Polish mags are hardly known outside Poland and attempts to establish an international corner haven't suceeded yet: The connection from the Polish scene to the outer world isn't so good yet. (An exception is Bad News, the mag by the worldwide famous group Pulse. It was one of the best international diskmags. But it doesn't exist any more. As far as I know, there's no real substitution for it in Poland yet. Budyn, which was said to be better than Bad News, features almost only Polish articles.)

Thirdly, and this is the main concern: Why are the people so active on writing articles? Also for this, an explanation is swapping. There are still many mailswappers in Poland. Many sceners do nothing else than swapping. If you swap or have swapped yourself, you know that it's quite a lot of work to write and send a disk with a letter via snailmail. First, you have to write the letter. A standard-size letter (10 kbyte) can be written in half an hour to an hour. Then, you have to select stuff. You always have to take a look at the personal wishes of the swapper you're writing to. And you have to care about the free space on the disks. Then you must format a disk and copy the stuff onto it. Afterwards, you eject the disk from the floppy, sign it on the label, get a new letter couvert, put the disk to it, put something else, like a small sheet or a postcard into it, write the address, stick the stamp, and send the letter on the next day on your way to school/uni/work. If you answer a letter, more things come to this list: You have to open the couvert, read the letter, save the stuff to harddisk and probably have troubles with bad clusters. Then the answering procedure comes. In addition to this, you might have to do some favour for your contact, e.g. fill in some votesheets, look at some production and give comments, write an article, correct a buggy program etc. After sending there is of course still the risk that your letter gets stolen and never arrives at the desired person.

That's much time-consuming. And that's just one single letter! Mailswappers often have 50 contacts or more! Those of us who are mainly using e-mail have it much easier. You just have to write the letter, maybe attach some (but not so much that a disk is filled) stuff to it, log into the net and press on the send button. But that makes us lazy.

You might think that therefore the mailswappers won't write any articles because they are busy with their mails. But the contrary is the case. They get accustomed to writing and hard working for a single letter, because they write many long letters to their contacts. The letters have to be written as fast as possible not to create huge delays. Therefore the swappers learn how to write articles quickly.

A fourth argument is the, as far as I can tell, relatively friendly atmosphere in the Polish scene. The people are willing to help eachother.

What advantages has this article brought to us, the global scene (Polish included, of course)? We don't have to write snailmails, of course, if we have e-mail. But we should get more active. Writing letters is a good thing to prepare for writing articles. The friendly atmosphere is something that should be the case anyway. Forget stupid 'elitism' but help the other sceners! They will help you, too, in return. That's the way the scene should work.

We need better organization, too. An international web, like the swappers' web in Poland, would be good. But how should this international web look like? Tell me your suggestions.

- adok^hugi