Worth Saving

Doc outlines his plans for Linux Journal 2.0.

A friend the other day casually called Linux Journal "the journal of record for the Open Source community". I think that's a good description of what we were for 23 years—because one sign of our "of record" status is how many people have told us that they have a collection of LJ issues going back many years.

So I asked myself, what other magazines do people tend to keep, that might be models for Linux Journal as it grows into something much bigger in the world—while doing a better job than ever tending its Linux roots?

Two quickly came to mind: National Geographic and The New Yorker.

National Geographic is about much more than geography. It's about photography, adventure, science, culture, space, history and war. The New Yorker starts with the ideals and ironies of urban life in America's greatest city, but spreads to every topic its stable of first-rank writers fancy. Which could be anything. (Consider the vast oeuvre of John McPhee, the best nonfiction writer who ever walked the earth. All his books began as New Yorker essays.)

So I've decided that Linux Journal should be to Linux what National Geographic is to geography and The New Yorker is to New York—meaning about much more than the title alone suggests.

I think that "much more" for us is technology.

It's not a stretch to say that Linux as a technology is so important, ubiquitous and principled that it serves as an ideal place to stand while talking about the rest of technology and what it does—and can do—in the world.

The operative word in that sentence is principled. In more than two decades covering Linux, nothing has been more clear to me than the principled approach kernel developers, from Linus on down, take to working on what has become the world's most essential operating system. What's principled in kernel space spreads up and outward in the userspace we call the world of technology—or should, with our help.

So that's the plan.

We will always tend our Linux roots, but we will grow and branch out to examine many other topics within the technical world, with an eye for the leverage of principles, especially those embodied in the Linux kernel.

Our editorial approach will be principled as well. We want great writers working on important topics, who are willing to accept patches and correct bugs as well—often with the help of readers who might also be writers. We expect to be known for that.

We also expect everything we write to be worth saving. In fact, that's the main filter we'll apply to every contribution we consider: will this be worth saving?

This will place us in stark contrast to the current world of tech news, nearly all of which seems to disappear within seconds, like snow on the water.

And, of course, we'd like your help. We can't do it alone, any more than Linus could write his little operating system alone in 1991.

Doc Searls is editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, where he has been on the masthead since 1996. He is also co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto (Basic Books, 2000, 2010), author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), a fellow of the Center for Information Technology & Society (CITS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an alumnus fellow of the Berkman Klien Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He continues to run ProjectVRM, which he launched at the BKC in 2006, and is a co-founder and board member of its nonprofit spinoff, Customer Commons. Contact Doc through ljeditor@linuxjournal.com.

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