The Industry Standard: A metaphor

There’s lots of chit-chat this morning about The Industry Standard — one of the leading lights of the tech publishing business during the first bubble — relaunching as a Web-only publication, something that was expected to happen in December, according to a report from the always reliable Rex Hammock, but didn’t wind up taking place until now. The site will be using outside contributors such as Matt Marshall of Venturebeat and Fred Wilson of A VC, and it also has an interesting “prediction market” feature that should be fun to watch as it develops.

The thing that really struck me about the new Industry Standard, however, is how much it is a metaphor for the evolution of the magazine industry itself. During the boom times, magazines like The Standard and Wired were the size of a phone book — despite the fact that most of the stuff they wrote about was on the Web. I remember bringing the magazines to my desk and painstakingly typing in Web addresses. Now, whatever I read about tech comes from Wired’s website, but also TechCrunch and Mashable and GigaOm (welcome back, Om) and Techmeme.

It may seem as though the new Industry Standard is deliberately setting their sights low, as Peter Kafka describes it at Silicon Alley Insider, with just one full-time employee and a lot of outside contributors. But in many ways, I think the new Standard (and Silicon Alley Insider itself, for that matter) is a lot closer to what “magazine” publishing should be like — and is like — now than the old one. I wish them luck.

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