The End of History

I was in the business at PC Week (now eWEEK) at the dawn of the World-Wide Web in the early 90’s. We did some speculating about the impact on publishing; IIRC, we saw early on that it wasn’t going to be pretty.

But one of the happy things we foresaw was that, as storage prices came down, it would finally be easy to get at old stories. There was no reason to take down old articles; they would just be more pages on which ads could be served.

We were right about the web devastating established publishers. We were wrong about the archive thing. For some reason, most publishers don’t want their old content up, or perhaps they just don’t care.

If you want to look at old editions of major newspapers and magazines you likely have to pay for a subscription service and these are not cheap. The New York Times appears to give full archive access to subscribers, which is a good idea to keep some people subscribing, but the Washington Post sells old articles for a lot, even to subscribers.

wpost.archives

But that it should happen to tech publications which were always free on the web and which have always existed online with ad sales seemsjust weird to me. But there it is. The really old articles from PC Week (now eWEEK) and PCMag when I was on staff are not available. They used to be available through a paid service, but I’m not sure even that’s true.

And given all the corporate mitosis that has characterized Ziff brands since I was there, it’s not clear that eWEEK owns PC Week’s old content, or PCMag owns theirs. And what about defunct publications like Windows Sources? There may be some CDs in a filing cabinet somewhere.

I freelanced for eWEEK for many years until 2011 and all of those articles seem to be up. You can get them with search, but some change they made has caused the article list on my eWEEK bio page to be empty.

I know what you’re thinking: “Who wants to read a review of Windows 98 Second Edition anymore?” Hard to argue with that, but many of the articles still have historic interest. Sometimes it’s just funny to look back at PC Magazine reviews in the days when they could compare 12 word processing programs.

I think it’s a damn shame. The entire history of PC Week and PC Magazine from their launches until today would easily fit on a single hard drive. But they’re probably lost to history.

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