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It’s easy to take the Internet for granted. But once in a while, I’m reminded of just how integral the Net’s become to my life—by making me more productive at work, by making it easier to stay in touch with family and friends, and most importantly, by making it simple to find out who That Guy is.

Knowledge on demand

When I’m watching a show or movie and just can’t remember where I’ve seen That Guy before, I pull over my MacBook and call up the Internet Movie Database. Within moments, I’ve confirmed that That Guy is really The Same Guy who played That Other Guy in That Other Movie. How did we ever live without this vital information?

Wikipedia is the other Net resource I use all the time. The Internet encyclopedia has its detractors. (Because anyone can edit a Wikipedia article, entries can fall victim to malicious revisionism.) Wikipedia is also a perfect example of the old saying that you never want to see what happens inside a sausage factory. Behind the scenes, Wikipedia can be a seething cauldron of debate and political maneuvering. But the end result is a site that has harnessed the pure power of the Internet better than any other.

Whose tube?

Another site that’s a perfect use of the Internet is YouTube. Last May, I posted a brief video there showing what was lurking underneath the MacBook’s battery bay. Within a few days, it had been viewed tens of thousands of times. (As I write, the number is at nearly 200,000!)

As a magazine editor, I value the power of words. But there are times when they just can’t do as good a job as a photograph. And there are other times when even a photo isn’t enough—only video can make things really clear. Thanks to the Web, we can choose whatever medium works the best.

To Web and back

That’s not the only way the Internet has changed the way we work at Macworld. For example, when a new Apple product appears, our news and reviews now go online first; only then do we figure out when and where they’ll be in print.

The Net also allows us to publish material that would never fit in the printed magazine. Back in March, Rob Griffiths documented his experience running an Intel-based Mac mini. The series was roughly 16,000 words long—too much for the magazine, but just fine online.

One of the questions that came up in Rob’s series: How well would the new Mac mini perform as a home entertainment center? We asked Christopher Breen to spend some time with a Mac mini to answer that question, and he wrote up his findings for But a funny thing happened on the way to the Web: Chris’s story developed so nicely, we decided it’d make a really great magazine story, too (see page 50).

Pages without paper

Once upon a time, Andy Ihnatko wrote a monthly column for Macworld magazine. Much to our regret, we had to drop his print column a few years back. But recently, when we launched our new MacUser Weblog, we went back to Andy and asked him if he’d like to write for us again. And so, once again, you can read Andy’s monthly prose stylings.

Likewise, we’ve been trying to determine how to give the stories we publish in the magazine a longer shelf life. Over the course of two years, we’ll publish thousands of words on digital photography, the iPod and iTunes, Mac OS X, iLife, and more. Again, thanks to the Internet, we’ve found a way to collect all of those stories in one, convenient thematic package.

Last fall, we released our first Macworld Superguide, a downloadable PDF e-book with 100 pages about digital photography. Now we’ve got a second title, the Macworld iPod and iTunes Superguide, which has 88 pages of tips and tricks for getting the most out of the iPod and iTunes.

None of this is to say that we think print is dead—far from it. Print still does some things that the Internet and PDFs can’t. When we released our first PDF superguide, we discovered that a lot of people would rather buy the book in paper form, not as a digital file. So from now on, those superguides will also be available as good old-fashioned bound books. After all, even the Internet has its limits.

[ Where do you stand on the whole print versus Internet debate? Pay a visit to our online forums and let us know what you think. ]

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