Content of a valuable AUUGN (was Re: [AUUG-Talk]: Printed AUUGN: Value or not?)

David Bullock db at
Tue Dec 7 01:37:52 EST 2004

On Mon, 6 Dec 2004, Glenn Huxtable wrote:

> David Newall wrote:
>> I have a question: Would any of you, or do you know of anybody, who
>> would fail to renew membership because AUUGN was no longer printed?
> I'm not sure whether a soft edition of AUUGN would cut it. There's just so much
> information available on the net today, it may just pale into "yet another bit
> of info from the net".

I think this question raises an issue that transcend the distribution
format - what is the editorial distinctive of AUUGN?

While I've been an AUUG member, it's always been an irregular
magazine-format publication filled with 'technical stuff'.  But
technical information is so Google-able these days, and the
interests of the AUUG membership so diverse, that it's difficult
to see how AUUG can function as a magazine - that is, as a filter
of all the stuff out there.  If AUUG want to have a magazine, then
they should pick an editorial stance and see if an Australian magazine
publisher will pick it up as a commercial undertaking.  (Alternatively,
pick some magazine, arrange a 'free for AUUG members' deal, some
annual advertising space for conferences, and subvert the content
of the magazine by regular AUUG-sponsored articles [give a member $150
to write something interesting, since the damn maganizes won't pay
for content themselves]).

On the other hand, if AUUGN can realise that it's a *newsletter*,
then I think it might have a better chance of being relevant.  Being
the sorry post-modern that I am, what I want out of AUUG (and its
conferences, and AUUGN) is the feeling that I belong to a prestigious
if unlikley community of smart people who are passionate about the same
things that I am.  If AUUGN were to become a monthly 2-sided A4 page
of 'what's happening' (ie. news), then I think I'd have more time for it.

By 'news', I mean things like: events coming up in the next 2 months;
photos and vox-pops from previous events; a one-paragraph write-up of
the last month's chapter meeting in state X; a project announcement
from member Z; an 5 paragraph opinion piece from some topical issue;
a brief summary of what various AUUG committee meetings are chewing
over; a regular Pearl of Pessimism from Greg Black; a 'From Left Field'
column where someone discusses issues that geeks don't generally get
exposure to (eg. unique-selling-points in marketing, understanding your
personality, advice on conducting meaningful and lasting relatioships,
a survey of alternative economic models from an economist, 3 
cheap+quick+healthy recipies for the busy geek); a 'Professionally 
Speaking' column, that discusses matters that *are* professionally 
related (tax issues in to running a contracting business, legal aspects
of doing open-source work as an employee of another company under 
Australian law, a discussion on the value of intellectual capital; 
a forum to whinge/praise about how they were commercially treated by 
another AUUG member or the government; a reflection on the quality 
and direction of papers submitted at the conference by the program 
committee; informal case studies of large deployments of technology 
X [open-source or not] and what problems were faced; rants about where 
the industry needs to grow up; lampoons of the ACS and AIIA; interviews 
of Australian Microsoft (or anything) execs; a regular 'What You Missed 
By Skipping Computer Science' column for us gen-X-ers(!); an occasional 
"How I Make A Living In Open Source"; etc, etc, etc.

I think someone will have to solicit all this and hassle people for
material (and maybe AUUG should consider financially supporting someone
to do it).  The point is, that content of this nature is unlikely to
appear anywhere else - at least, not in one spot.  In other words, I
want my newsletter to be homey and local - I want it to enhance my
feeling of 'connectedness'.  It doesn't need to be a technical resource.
I have Google for that.

David Bullock

PS.  I intend that this discussion be distribution-format neutral.
      I realise that various media provide different opportunities for
      generating 'connectedness' - it goes without saying that multiple
      media can and should be employed.  I think it would be rash to
      discount any given type (eg. pigment and dead-trees via snail
      mail) without further considering the goals of the newsletter.

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