Back when Open for Business started some nine years ago, the original purpose of this publication was not to put out original commentary on “the business of life,” but to blog about and link to useful information on Free Software. In 2010, everybody – and pretty much everything – has a blog, but over the years OFB has exited its category of genesis and taken up the mantle of the magazine. Why be a magazine in an age of blogs?
Those who have begun to read OFB in the last four years might think the description of our early content sounds surprising. In recent years, our editorial focus has been broad – covering technology, yes, but also culture, theology, politics and any number of other subjects. We even feature occasional creative works in the spirit of the legendary magazines of centuries past.
The change in direction occurred organically with the writers who have made the publication what it is today. It became clear by mid-2006 that our old target audience was being better served by other sites and our talented base of contributors had interests beyond our narrow target. OFB went into a summer long hiatus as we tossed around its possible future, reemerging this day in 2006 – five years after its launch – in the current format.
We are sandwiched between two more prominent categories of content. On the one side are the major news organizations that can pump out breaking news (or something that is allegedly such) 24×7. On the other side, we face blogs that can publish rapid fire links to what is happening – often documented via uploads to YouTube – as it happens, without any hindrance of bureaucracy or editing. In this age, what is the value of edited, scheduled, stand-alone content on the smaller scale of a publication like OFB?
It is easy to forget the responsibility that comes with welding the written word. Throughout OFB’s progression, one of the most interesting elements for us to observe has been related to the subjects we have been able to influence. From stopping the railroading of a Free Software project by a corporate giant in our early years to helping to get the word out about orphan drugs earlier this summer, our goal has been to formulate a voice – out of our collage of voices – that is pointed, but thoughtful.
There is a continuing need for content dealing with the big issues – and not just news stories – the issues of life and meaning. Issues continue to beg to be presented in lively ways that linger in language and not just utility. Issues remain where the carefully weighed word is more crucial than beating another site to make a statement.
We believe the realm of the edited magazine – as vulnerable as the printed ones may appear – remains necessary. We must not forget the need for something more than sound bites – as often as it is forgotten today, creativity and the realm of ideas remain vital to this peculiar quest known as “being human.” Blogs, for all their useful features, rarely fulfill these elements that were key to quality publications in the past.
Of course, Open for Business itself does not always fulfill the lofty goals we have set for it. But, in the next nine years we will continue to aspire to provide something unique and different from the blog.
That is why we continue to strive to be a magazine in the age of blogs. Maybe a different kind of magazine, but a magazine nonetheless.