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TidBITS Turns 22: Are You a TidBITS Member?

With this issue of TidBITS, we’re officially marking our 22nd year of continuous publication, maintaining our rank as the oldest solely electronic technology publication on the Internet. During that stretch, TidBITS has evolved with the times, covering Apple’s entire integrated ecosystem of products and services and taking advantage of new forms of distribution — ranging from the World Wide Web in 1994 to an iOS app in 2010. But we’ve also remained remarkably constant through those 22 years, certainly with the distribution of our weekly email issue, but more importantly with our focus on helping our readers navigate the twisty little passages of technology.

The main change in TidBITS of late, however, has been our TidBITS membership program, which we launched at the end of 2011 to put TidBITS on a sustainable financial footing (see “Support TidBITS by Becoming a TidBITS Member,” 12 December 2011). With it, we’ve taken a page from the thriving community-supported agriculture model, which has enabled people to support small farmers directly, sharing in the risk of bad weather and the rewards of the crop. We’re calling our variant “community-supported content” and so far, nearly 1,700 TidBITS readers have pitched in to support our work at levels ranging from $20 to an incredibly generous $1,000.

But that’s still only 1,700 of over 25,000 people who receive TidBITS via email each week, not to mention the tens of thousands of people who read TidBITS via our Web site or iOS app. If you’re not yet a TidBITS member, can I ask you to join today to help us continue to bring you TidBITS? While our base TidBITS content will remain free to all, members also receive:

  • A version of the TidBITS Web site free of graphical banner ads.
  • A full-text RSS feed (non-members get a summary-only feed).
  • The option to receive articles in email as soon as they are posted.
  • The ability to post longer article comments, with live URLs.
  • Recognition of your membership (with apple icons) when commenting.
  • The option to receive an article’s comments via email.
  • A 30-percent discount on our Take Control ebooks.
  • Discounts on over 30 popular Mac-related programs, many of which we rely on every day. See the Membership Benefits page for the full list, which has grown since launch.

So what have we done with the funds from the TidBITS membership program so far? Along with paying for the hosting and bandwidth costs associated with running a Web site and large mailing list, and helping to defray the costs of developing and maintaining the many thousands of lines of code that underpin our Internet presence, the main thing we’ve been focusing on is bringing more writers to TidBITS.

One key problem we’ve faced is that most TidBITS staffers are industry experts who generate their primary income from publishing books, speaking, and consulting. That’s great from an expertise standpoint, but it also means that it can be hard to find someone who has time to write or edit any given article. To that end, we’ve begun to bring in other writers and editors, starting with Agen Schmitz, who has ably taken over the task of identifying and writing up our TidBITS Watchlist coverage of Mac software updates. We’re continuing to look for other people whose skills and schedules fit with how we work, and, honestly, whom we can afford, since we still can’t compete with the heavily funded publications on payment.

Tonya and I spent some of last week in Washington, D.C. for Tristan’s spring break, visiting museums and generally absorbing what it’s like to be in the nation’s capital. Perhaps our most successful outing was a day trip to the Newseum, a museum on Pennsylvania Avenue devoted to the press — as Tonya exclaimed at the end of the day, “Who knew there was a museum for my sort of people!” and Tristan was far more engaged at the Newseum than by the more-traditional exhibits at the National Air and Space Museum. But seeing the Newseum’s fabulous exhibits reminded us of how our editorial approach to TidBITS differs from that of many other publications. We
cover the news in our field, certainly, but we’re always asking ourselves if what we’re writing is useful to our readers, rather than drumming up controversy and titillation, or merely reporting facts without context.

Thank you for reading TidBITS, then, and thank you for joining the TidBITS membership program to help us keep TidBITS going for another 22 years.

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