Masthead CMC Magazine December 1, 1995 / Page 2


On Web Publishing and Free Speech

by John December (

This is the twentieth issue of this magazine. In preparing these issues, we've faced many questions of balance: what to include, what to leave out, how to produce the magazine so that it meets the needs of the audience and yet work within the limits of our resources. We've had arguments and epiphanies. I've learned that Web publishing is a very human and meaning-intensive activity.

I gave a talk about Web publishing last month at the Online '95 Conference in Chicago, a gathering of information professionals, publishers, and librarians, who were intensely interested in how the new world of the Web may open new opportunities for publishing. Although I did talk a bit about the mechanics of it: Web browsers and HTML, CGI, and Java, I mainly focused on the processes of negotiating meaning and using a process and team-oriented approach to publishing on the Web. Too often, ideas and techniques of content development get lost in technical concerns of Web publishing.

Therefore, I'm very happy in this month's issue to present an excellent interview with a Web publisher. Chief correspondent Chris Lapham interviews Editor Elizabeth Osder, the new Content Editor at the New York Times. Osder gives some intriguing insights into the processes, steps, and pitfalls of publishing online.

Academic journals are quickly racing to the Web as a venue for publishing. This month's issue includes an announcement of a new academic journal, Kairos, devoted to teachers of writing using the Web. Kairos is sure to fill in important niche in the field of writing pedagogy.

An issue of CMC Magazine wouldn't be complete without a story picking on the U.S. Congress, so we include two this month: first, Howard Rheingold's call for action on the Congressional legislation and debate on speech rights online. It is interesting to see the political mechanics of the present Congress grind through something which they apparently don't understand. In the end, I think that Congress' actions are irrelevant, since there I see no way of enforcing restrictions on Internet by U.S. laws, except through a draconian world-wide online police state. In our coverage of the "cyberporn fallout" in the August issue of CMC Magazine, I wrote an editorial calling for a solution based on individual responsibility, not government control.

Amelia DeLoach reports on the preliminary results of her experiment in contacting members of Congress online. Just as it is naive to assume that calling (202)456-1414 will get you the ear of Bill Clinton, the lack of any meaning to Congress's online "presence" through email may be more evidence cracking the illusion that online communication necessarily brings closer democracy. [CMC TOC]

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