In a digital world, there’s no rewinding

A few months ago, I was talking to an analyst from a market-research firm. Our business-related conversation was over, so we turned our attention to personal chitchat.

A few months ago, I was talking to an analyst from a market-research firm. Our business-related conversation was over, so we turned our attention to personal chitchat. Being the nerd that I am, I tried to tie some parts of the conversation back to the technological topics we had already discussed. The most notable moment came when I explained that about 95% of my young son’s video collection is in DVD format, not VHS.

In the uncommon circumstance when I pop a tape in the VCR and have to rewind it before he can watch, the kid doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s so used to the conveniences of DVD technology, that with the attention span of a typical three-year-old, rewinding a VHS tape seems like an utter waste of time.

“He’s been spoiled by digital and can’t accept the analog world,” said the voice on the other end of the phone. And, like this gentleman’s research reports, he was pretty darn accurate.

If I tried to break into the lecture about how, when I was my son’s age, there was no such thing as a VCR, and when I finally got one I sure didn’t complain about rewinding a tape … well, I’d sound like my father when he talked about walking to and from school and being happy to do it. My lecture would be just as effective as his was, which is to say it would be remembered only so it could be mocked.

From this experience, I concluded that I have reached an age at which parts of the world have officially passed me by, and I better get moving if I’m going to catch up.

It is, in fact, a digital world, not an analog one anymore.

And while I might try to make a humorous observation using my personal life as an example, the digital reality has serious implications on the realm in which we all work. My job and this publication are no exceptions. In fact, the manner in which you are reading this column right now plays into the dynamics.

For a long time, our magazine’s editorial content has been posted online for anyone to read, whether they receive a subscription to the magazine or not. Every month, people visit our home page to read the content. But beyond that, a little more than a year ago, Cabling Installation & Maintenance began offering digital delivery, which is different from the online posting of content.

With digital delivery, a subscriber gets this magazine in his or her e-mail inbox rather than at the doorstep. An e-mail message alerts the subscriber that the issue is available for download, and that downloadable issue includes everything you would see in a printed issue on your desk: the front cover; formatted articles, photos, and diagrams; and advertisements. It looks just like the printed issue.

Cabling Installation & Maintenance and other magazines published by PennWell have found that few readers are on the fence about digital editions. Most people either love them or hate them. The good thing is if you elect digital delivery of this publication and discover you’re a “hater,” you can switch back to print delivery right away.

Another way this magazine has embraced digital delivery of information is through online seminars, which we call Webcasts. In May, Cabling Installation & Maintenance produced a Webcast on the topic of 10GBase-T and Augmented Category 6 cabling, educating attendees about what’s ahead in the standards process and the decisions they’ll face if they choose an Augmented Category 6 infrastructure.

In case you weren’t aware of this Webcast or otherwise missed its live broadcast, you can find it archived on our home page (, where it will be available until May 2006.

We’re planning another Webcast for this month on the topic of cabling systems in data centers. And I personally guarantee that you’ll get every penny’s worth of the registration price.

That’s an easy promise to make because it’s free.

I also promise that if you only make it halfway through the Webcast and have to start over again another time, you won’t have to rewind it first.

Chief Editor

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