At one time, MacWorld
was amazing. They were *THE* mac information source. MacUser
was there too, but it was never more than "Oh, and there's MacUser, too".. MacUser was nice if you wanted another 100 pages and sometimes a slightly different perspective
, but in terms of every sort of quality
, MacUser was just second.
MacWorld was the indisputed center of the macintosh universe
. Their articles were almost always useful
or at least interesting
, and invariably informative
; their reviews
covered virtually every new commercial app
that appeared of any consequence, and most of the shareware
you would care about was certain to appear mentioned somewhere between the covers; they would frequently give in-depth, deeply explorative scoop
s of software that would not be out for months; they had four or so fascinating monthly columnist
s (David Pogue
, Guy Kawaski
, Steven Levy
and the consumer advocate
lady) that would each compliment what the others said nicely, and each independently give you something worthwhile to chew on. And the news
section.. oh gods, the news section. At one time their News section was literally essential
; it contained everything. Every shift within Macromedia
, every important movement in apple's management, every possibility of a Next Big Thing
that could suddenly rise up, everything
that was going to be shaping your life
as a mac user, well reported, in detail.
It isn't like that anymore.
It's hard to tell how much of it was me learning more and how much of it was Macworld getting stupider, but i know this; MacWorld has become stupid. I go through and the articles are so dumbed down-- and cover things so obvious, so rudimentary, that it's hard to believe i still have a subscription to this tripe. It's become useless.
I could talk for pages about how fall they've fallen. But i'll give just one snapshot, one fragment from when the Aqua bombshell hit earlier this year, and we all, eagerly clustered around macnn waiting to see what would happen at THIS keynote, and afterward there were reams of data on various websites and we could all download videos off the internet of Steve demoing his New Pollution. That next month MacWorld did a front-cover article on Mac OS X developer preview 3 and aqua. Upon seeing this sitting on the kitchen table, and realizing i hadn't read MacWorld in months, i decided to see what new, fascinating insight they had come up with. I was expecting something along the standards of their worldview-changing coverage of copeland so many years before.
Instead i got a really rather short paraphrasing of what was www.apple.com's mac os x section at the time.
Literally. A paraphrasing of the promotional materials sitting out on apple's website. They had even taken the article's few pictures from apple's website. And apple's website had pages and pages more information and pictures and movies that never made it in macworld.
This was about three weeks after the Keynote. By this time, Ars Technica had deeply technical articles examining the specific, detailed failures of aqua and the brilliance of mac os x's low-level xml configuration and all kinds of other complex fascinating things. And Macworld had filler.
So, what happened?
Well, the first step down was that all the columnists left, for one reason or another, except David Pogue, and MacWorld found no one to replace them. But that is not the reason for what happened next.
What happened next.. well, there were two sides to it. The first is that accountability died. Died completely, when MacUser died. MacUser was always just the also-ran, but it turns out MacWorld had to work a lot harder than we thought to keep MacUser an also-ran. MacWorld had a relatively high bar set, and they didn't have to just clear this bar; they had to get far enough over it it was clear to all that the bar was unimportant. Until eventually, as the others on this node have noted, they just knocked the bar off.
One day i came home to discover in my mailbox the totally unexpected news that MacWorld and MacUser had "merged". And for awhile, that literally was what happened; One magazine came in the mailbox, named MacWorld.. but inside was two magazines. They literally ran the MacWorld issue side by side with the MacUser issue inside the same binding, totally intact and independent except that each magazine's advertising sections had been pulled out and meshed together at the end. They were still seperately produced, still totally autonomous and disconnected, still with their respective wholly different layout styles. Still both high quality.
And then awhile later, they announced that the two sections were going to be integrated into one single magazine.
What this essentially came down to is that everyone who had been important in MacUser was fired. MacUser's columnist, Andy Inhatko, got a lets-hide-this-guy- where-potential-competitors- cant-find-him job with MacWeek Online, or something, but everything else just disappeared.
And those who were paying attention would notice that at the point the macuser half of the magazine ceased to be, a pretty decent amount more than half disappeared from between the covers. And what was left shrunk gradually over the couple months after that as the "new" editorial system "adjusted".
And so what we had was two 150 page magazines, and then one 300 page magazine.. and then one 100 page magazine with no competitors and no reason to strive for excellence.
And then it comes down to the simple fact is that the internet ate up anyone the least bit knowledgeable in the reader base. Macworld knows now that anyone who doesn't want their articles dumbed down is going to be reading macnn and appleinsider already; macworld assumes now that we can figure out by ourselves through versiontracker what software is worth using. Basically, the only people who would be willing to wait for a monthly magazine (goes the logic) are the clueless easily impressed brand new late40something imac owners.
And that's who macworld is written for now. And so every aspect of quality has just been thrown out. Even the layout, which was once the world's shining beacon light of interesting but dignified layout-- as befit a magazine primarily aimed at graphics professionals-- has begun to look almost exactly like it was made by an 8th-grader in Microsoft Frontpage. Themes and all. If you're familiar with any principles of graphic design, the new MacWorld is almost painful to look at.
When macaddict first came out, we all bought one issue for the bundled CD and then laughed at it. It was so short, and the layout was .. well, it looked like a lot of thought had gone into it, but it was so overdone and lowbrow. Well, now macworld is just as short, and has layout that makes you really appreciate what works about macaddict's way of doing things. And if you can look past the bright colors, MacAddict has a fair level of intelligence inside.. whereas MacWorld is now just a rotting walking corpse, written as if for small children.