Slow Down Old World, You're Moving Too Fast
One of my favorite songs off one of the best country albums ever is "Slow Down Old World" by Willie Nelson. He released the song on the Shotgun Willie album in 1973. The world was moving too fast for Willie then and is moving too fast for us today. I have the album on vinyl and it's impossible to listen to Willie's languid singing and look at the weathered album sleeve and not slow down for a minute. That's why it's timeless music.
I'm 33 and reaching the end of the sought after 18-35 demographic, but I'm still considered a millennial and while I wasn't born with an iPhone in my hand, I read more on my mobile than any other place. Yet like nearly every other human being I know, I seek moments like listening to "Slow Down Old World" that offer a chance to slow down and relax, and to tap into something stable in an increasingly fragmented, federated, sped-up, information-overloaded existence.
Why bring this up? Right now I'm working on a feature for the February issue of Publishing Executive about predominately web-based publications that have expanded or are planning to expand into print and/or app platforms. Among them is the online-born music publication, Pitchfork Media, which released the mobile and tablet app, Pitchfork Weekly, in November and released the printed quarterly Pitchfork Review last week. Pitchfork president Chris Kaskie says the Weekly is intended to make Pitchfork.com content more manageable and accessible for those that can't visit the site everyday and the printed Review is to provide an object of permanence to the Pitchfork audience -- something that is scarce for its young audience.
This is not to suggest the pendulum is swinging back to print or that future incarnations of the web browser won't be better suited to content packaging, but it does show that that providing moments of peace and clarity of thought is still valuable. Essentially, we're in the middle of the process of sorting out all the content/information/data being produced and distributed online and putting it into consumable packages.
The 2010 Wired magazine article, "The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet," got to this point:
"Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It's driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it's a world Google can't crawl, one where HTML doesn't rule. And it's the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they're rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don't have to go to the screen). The fact that it's easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend."
Time will reveal what future content consumption platforms will be. I secretly hope future generations rebel against the Age of Distraction and pursue more Willie Nelson moments. It's really the only way to get any thinking done.
If you have any thoughts on or experiences with online publications moving to print, drop me a line.
Related story: Publisher's Paradox: Information Overload
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.