Curation and the Legacy Gap Created by Digital-Only Publishing

“Why devote time and money to creating thoughtful long-form content when audiences tend to flock toward easier reads?”

Paul Petrunia, founder of Archinect, an online publication for the architecture industry, says this is not a rhetorical question.

“From a business perspective, it usually doesn’t make any sense at all—at least not in the way that media is getting produced and consumed today,” Petrunia writes on Archinect.

What does make sense is to expand into print, which they are doing with the launch of Ed, a new print magazine. The new title seeks to explore print as a format in the same way the self-described “digital-first and digital-only” publication pioneered their work in digital media.

What that digital content lacks, and where Petrunia believes Ed will can have an impact, is in curating specific themes and growing an archive of their evolution in the industry.

Digital has long been recognized to have the kind of curation problem that Ed aims to alleviate. Their timing is good, as increasingly granular audience segmentation lays the groundwork for a new kind of magazine media approach.

“…we have the major media outlets seeing shrinking influence, and clusters of audiences who are talking and negotiating and engaging within themselves,” noted magazine expert Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni in an interview last year.

For his part, Petrunia seems to have a good handle on the needs and desires of the connected consumer, saying “We can satisfy our reader’s cravings while they wait for a render to complete, and still give them something more substantial to inspire and enlighten at the end of a long work day.”

They’ll succeed if they keep quality at the top of the list. This kind of venture depends on it. It goes back to the classic opposition of quantity over quality; mass market continued to strive for a number of eyeballs, while indies have been focusing on quality – of content, of association, and of readership, in what’s been hailed as a new golden age for magazines.

As digital media sites like Archinect mature and begin to explore how to document their impact and their legacy, we expect to see a further crumbling of the “digital-only” facade.