Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Highbrow Magazine Website Reviews I

The Atlantic: A top-of-the-line highbrow magazine website, this one scores highly in the Freeloader, Archive, and Completeness categories. The Atlantic has been publishing online since September 1995 (only 4 years after Tim-Berners Lee unveiled the World Wide Web to the public) and most articles from each issue since then are still available today at no charge. In fact, for the most part one only has to pay for content that was published before the dawn of online issues (i.e., before September 1995): Older articles are only available from The Archive for a fee. (I say "for the most part" because certain articles in issues from January 2004 to the present have also been pay-only.) While the existence of a pay archive certainly requires a deduction from the Freeloader category, the size of this archive offsets this deduction with an increase in the Archive category, for The Atlantic's archive contains articles dating from 1857 to the present. To be fair, the magazine could also lose points in Completeness because not every article from every issue is online. However, I don't dock them for this because the articles that are not available online are apparently only missing because of copyright restrictions and the preferences of certain authors.

One caveat, however: The Atlantic may be heading further south on the Freeloader scale, as an atypically large number of articles in the current issue (June 2004) are unavailable online, and the Table of Contents page for this issue contains the following note: "Only selected articles from the current issue of the magazine are available free on the Web. Most articles with headlines in gray will soon be available for online purchase in our premium archive." Only time will tell whether this marks a new trend in how much of its content The Atlantic will be giving away in the future.


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