It’s really no surprise that technology magazines in India are so gadget focused – that’s what advertising appears to drive, and we’ve seen that online with 1731 gadget blogs*. Mint reports today that Wired, the iconic geek-culture magazine may be launching in India. The report quotes my views on Wired, but I don’t think it accurately captures what I said. So, here’s what I think Wired India needs to do:
– Be primarily online and ‘unwired’: The base that Wired targets – those at the cross-section of creativity and technology – are increasingly online, and with time, the propensity to read will change. That base is already online, and that should be the primary base. Yes, there is a market for long-form reading and one for magazines, but my belief is that it always needs to be digital first.
– Be Indian: different country, different culture, but my sense is that digitization will change user behavior in this country in ways that few can imagine right now. Wired India cannot be a facsimile of Wired’s global edition. We need our own cultural icons – they’re there, but someone needs to write about how they’re changing this country. Wired needs to do that.
P.s.: I did NOT say “Additionally, the magazine could find it challenging to serve the same quality of content in the Indian context.” I think there’s more than enough to be reported on digital culture in this country, and it’s sad that so few are doing it. We’re going to do our bit.
– Be young: I think Wired India would need an editor who is less than 40 years old. It’s not that those who are 40 won’t get it, but, even at 30, I sometimes feel out of touch with the changes in the way people are using technology. I strongly believe that for a publication like Wired, you need someone at the crossection of technology, pop culture and governance, and that person needs to be involved in and in a position to understand what the 18-30 year olds are doing. More than the age, I think you need someone mad enough about digital culture – but then, India doesn’t even have its own Henry Jenkins.
We’ll see if Wired India becomes the icon that its American counterpart is. We also need an Indian equivalent of Ars Technica, Gawker (though it’s risky), Techcrunch, Springwise and The Register. And if you want, I could tell you why they’re not there, but that’s a separate discussion.
* I made that number up, but you get the drift.