Looking back on the PC Diskmags Scene
An Orientating Prophet of Hugi
The diskmag scene on the PC is undergoing very positive developments. Tons of new mags have been released recently: for example, OurPlace, a music e-mag with a Visual Basic based engine, 7Zone, a mag from the Commonwealth of Independent Nations, of course in Russian language, and Planet, a Polish chartsmag with an editorial in English language. In Planet, Hugi is on the 5th place. The first four places are held by local Polish zines, in Polish language, made by Polish people for their fellow countrymen. So I conclude that the local diskmag scene is still flourishing in some countries.
Ah, how I love writing such articles! I've done this many times, perhaps too often. I always spread propaganda about the glory of the diskmag scene to motivate people to write articles for Hugi and to support other mags as well or create new ones, simply for me to have something to read. Someone I know recently told me that in his opinion, we often you create things just to be able to consume things that are not created by anyone else. Maybe it was for this reason that I persisted in making Hugi: I loved diskmags, but there were only a handful, and the ones that came out more or less regularly had little and not overly exciting contents. I wanted to re-establish the glory of the diskmag scene at the time of Imphobia, or go even further: to create a magazine culture in the PC scene that had never been seen before. It was never on my mind to rule the PC diskmag scene with Hugi as a monopolist; I simply wanted to motivate other people to produce what I - and certainly others, too - enjoyed so much: diskmags.
Now I have a different view on this issue. The quality of diskmags in general has improved, especially technically, but I'm no longer really fascinated by them. They are pervaded by constant, monotonous topics, such as "Is the scene dead?", OS warfares, mag-wars. Sure, there are also mags like Shine that try to bring some new ideas into the article business, by dealing with more interesting themes like movies and ducks, but frankly I find that they are dealt with in a rather trivial way. In fact I'm not really interested in movies at all. Only an in-depth making-of of a technically outstanding movie might catch my attention. The ducks were dealt with in a humoristic way in Shine, which one could perhaps find entertaining if one has nothing else to do. But still, I find the stories in professional paper magazines more fascinating; they are both interesting and fun to read, with the chance of learning something new. Their quality is simply so high that hardly any article in a diskmag can compete with them.
Regarding the scene, portal sites such as Orange Juice and CFXweb are now my major source of information. They do not contain long, well written articles, but lots of news snippets and open letters, updated daily, if not more often. Browsing these sites once a day is more than enough to keep me informed on what's new and hot in the scene. Especially Orange Juice really deserves its attribute "the demoscene information center" now, and it even has a pleasant design. Sure, you won't get all information this way either. Some of the most interesting news can still be derived only straight from the horse's mouth - by talking to the people. But the news corners in diskmags have finally lost their importance due to the recent rise in quality of the scene-related websites.
So what else should diskmags offer? Discussions are unsuitable: newsgroups are continuously accessibile and thus easily superior to any diskmag-based approach. Most of the discussions held in diskmags are, in fact, regarded as slow and stringy by the readers. As TAD put it, it's like playing chess with three moves per month.
No news, no discussions - fine. What are diskmags for then? Long reports about groups, their productions, parties, and especially interesting cases (like the Jay Newingham and the DJ Isabelle rips), where a lot of research is required. In other words: for journalistic efforts. The advantages of diskmags are their abundance of space and off-line access, which saves phone costs.
Moreover, diskmags can contain tutorials with examples, in the areas of coding, graphics, music, but also on any other subject. There are also good, structured and cataloged sites for these things, like flipcode.com, which are definitely more useful if you are looking for an answer to a certain question. Still, it's a nice goody to have tutorials in a diskmag, especially such which deal with new, unprecedented matters, in other words: not something the reader would be looking for, but something that he would be pleased with when accidentially stumbled across accidentially. An example of such a "goody" is the article in Imphobia 12 about how to display high-res black-and-white graphics in text mode by manipulating some VGA registers. This isn't something you'd be looking for, because there are far easier methods to display high-res graphics. But still, this article caught my attention, and I found it interesting and worth experimenting with the ideas back in 1996.
Non-scene articles would also be a really nice addition. Sure, I know that political articles in a diskmag will never have the quality of a commercial magazine, unless a professional journalist happened to decide that contributing to a diskmag in his spare time would be fun. But still it is interesting to read other people's opinion on topics such as genetic engeneering, water shortages, overpopulation and the danger of China's ambitions to become a superpower. You may say: "Go to a newsgroup!", but this is not quite the same, because an article in a diskmag requires (or should require) longer thinking and more careful selection of words than posting a short thought to a forum (unless you are experienced enough to write as spontaneously as I'm doing now and your text still doesn't end up in a mess - okay, I should not have written this, as certain people now have another reason to call me narcistic *laugh*). I'd also be interested in learning what else bothers sceners apart from their hobby, which knowledge they have, which fears, which dreams. This all could be covered in a diskmag, and this is what a diskmag is most suitable for.
I reckon these were the most important thoughts I finally wanted to reveal to the public in an article.
Adok/Hugi - 13 Jun 2000