It's been painful couple of weeks monitoring the online space in the wake of the SolidWorks 2010 launch. It was bad enough that SolidWorks let the beta testers (almost all of them bloggers, it seems) scoop the CAD press but then it turned vicious as everyone wanted to pile on.
- One popular blogger essentially called the CAD press a bunch of old, tired complainers used to being pampered by vendors but who do nothing but ask stupid questions and are loath to use the very software they are supposed to be covering.
- A SolidWorks blogger wholeheartedly extols the virtues of bloggers as the new media in contrast to traditional CAD
- Even a CAD journalist turned on his own, stating that the CAD press ought to stop whining. Become a beta tester or shut up.
There were a few weak peeps in response from the CAD press, most in the form of one line responses in the comment sections of the attacking blog posts or on Twitter. In the old days, such attacks would have been met with a barrage of withering prose. A year ago a debate raged between bloggers and press in which one of the CAD press compared bloggers to less evolved beings. Bloggers were criticized as being barely able to dot their i's or spell, much less conform to "journalistic practices." I'm sure the bloggers were themselves puzzled at the lack of response. Like sadistic kids who are poking an old dog with sticks and wondering why it wasn't fighting back. Was everyone on vacation? Or worse?
Sadly, it appears the era of CAD press as we know it has expired. The SolidWorks press fiasco only puts a date stamp on it. There is no longer a functioning healthy body composed of members of CAD press. Many of the practicing CAD journalists have scattered, some wandering looking for work, abandoned by boarded up publishing houses. The last US CAD-dedicated magazine has stopped printing. I'm trying to think of who I know that makes a living writing only about CAD....
Meanwhile, the amount of information on the web is so great that the TenLinks organization can hardly keep up. Our list of bloggers is the biggest list we have -- and it's growing. Our editors find tons of articles every day -- as readers of our daily newsletter know -- and that's after we weed out stories of travel, what was for breakfast, etc. The number of articles from "traditional" sources is steadily shrinking.
So it's quite reasonable for a company like SolidWorks to court the "new media" and placing a higher value on them. They are SO much more productive (in terms of content generated). As bloggers themselves point out, they still have the passion for the product. They are eager -- not jaded. They are (mostly) not even cynical. They can definitely run circles around most any editor or journalist when using the software. Maybe they can't all form perfect sentences but I doubt if their audience even notices. We now have CAD experts talking directly to CAD users. The middlemen of publishing have been removed -- or at the very least, marginalized.
Will the CAD press be missed? The new media is good but are there things it's not good at? Is there no one out there who appreciates a well crafted, well written article? Who would pay to have it written? Would anyone pay to read it? Can the CAD press be revived? Should they be? If so, how can the members of the CAD press be useful to the community? Will the new media become the old media? Or is that already happening?