In this double issue of PAW, devoted to articles that explore the future, it’s fitting to explore the future of the magazine you’re now reading — because there’s a good chance that some of you are not holding it in your hands, but reading it on a computer screen.
Because of our mission and PAW’s loyal readership, the magazine is protected to some extent from the changes convulsing the publishing industry. But we are not immune. Over the next month, we will be surveying readers to find out about your reading habits and what you would like to see in PAW’s pages and on our recently revamped Web site, paw.princeton.edu.
We will continue to publish a high-quality print magazine; for many alumni, reading for pleasure means sitting down with a magazine printed on glossy paper and stumbling across unexpected articles and striking illustrations. And yet recent alumni and current students — as well as their technology-loving elders — do much of their leisure reading online. Even the best-read feature in PAW, Class Notes, may need to reinvent itself in years to come, as these columns compete for alumni attention with class news on Facebook and on other social-networking Web sites.
Our new Web site, which we launched in September, provides many of the features that readers of online publications now expect, including the opportunity to comment and to view slide shows and enjoy audio and video clips that add dimension to the stories we run in print. The site also highlights our Weekly Blog. But as technology improves, so should we. We hope to do more.
Our survey will be conducted by e-mail. We want to know what kinds of material you like to see in print, and what you prefer to see and hear online. We’re asking about how you prefer to read for pleasure: on paper, on a screen, or both. We are especially interested in how you stay on top of news of your classmates, and how you’d like PAW to develop in coming years. If you receive a survey, please take the time to complete it. If you don’t receive one, we invite you to send us your comments and ideas nonetheless. You can e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send them by snail mail to me at PAW, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton, NJ, 08542.
While we try to divine our own future, we invite you to enjoy the ideas presented in these pages. What will libraries look like in the digital age? How might developments that originated in University labs change your life? What’s next for Princeton? In Joel Achenbach ’82’s story, we see how one alumnus, Nathan Myhrvold *83, personally is nudging the future along. In another package, alumni from a wide range of fields and backgrounds offer suggestions about how President Obama might make the future better than the past.
And we wait to hear from you to help us set our course for the months and years to come.
Marilyn H. Marks *86