Tech blog Engadget posted on Monday about an announcement from France’s Amusement Magazine that their new issue will be the “first ever connected to the internet!” The print version of the March issue will be equipped with a RFID tag, allowing readers to connect to the internet and access exclusive content online.
Of course, the first problem is that for Amusement’s readers to benefit from this feature they must own a home-based RFID reader, such as Violet’s Mir:ror which retails for $59. But the even bigger problem is how this so-called innovation is making consumers resoundingly ask, “WHY?”
The press release issued by Amusement to announce the coming issue asks readers several questions of their own: “What if a magazine of merely 700g could consist of paper, ink, electronic components and digital content all at the same time? What if the contents of a magazine could go on living forever in cyberspace? What if the difference between written and digital text finally becomes one in the same?” And now while I’m aware that these are rhetorical questions, I still feel compelled to answer.
I understand the desire to bridge the gap between the print and digital versions of a magazine, but I don’t see how using a technology that still has such a small home user base is a logical solution. For years magazines (particularly in the design and technology fields) have included CD- and DVD-ROMs as electronic supplements to their print issues. More recently, some magazines have made exclusive online content available only to subscribers, such as New Scientist‘s model of having full text articles from their archives available on their website if you are a subscriber to the magazine. These methods of uniting print and web are useful, successful, and, most importantly, simple. I understand that RFID technology is a new and exciting advancement right now, but until it becomes more mainstream, I don’t see it as a sensible way to bring together print and digital magazines.
What do you think about Amusement magazine’s decision to add an RFID tag with exclusive content to their print edition? If you bought this issue, would you think of the tag as a useful advancement, or would you toss it in the garbage?