Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

6.30. What are electronic journals?

Electronic journals (e-journals) are publications that are distributed online rather than in traditional formats like printed magazines. Publishing a printed magazine is an expensive and laborious process, but e-journals are inexpensive to create and distribute. Global computer networks are giving more people a quick and inexpensive means to be heard. With electronic journals, freedom of the press isn't limited to those with access to a printing press.

Through electronic journals, anyone with access to a computer and a modem can produce and distribute a magazine using computer networks such as the Internet. At last count there were more than 400 electronic journals covering every conceivable topic, including poetry, health issues, mass transit, the environment, and art. When there isn't a magazine that fits a need, starting one requires only a computer and access to a network. These periodicals typically have a more diverse, although smaller, audience than traditional magazines. The editors range from young crackers and "phone phreaks" to scientists and journalists.

Most publishers of electronic journals would have been unable to produce a traditional magazine, due to cost and time constraints. Online publishing offers the ability to create a professional-looking publication using minimal resources.

Most electronic journals are free. "Subscribing" means nothing more than asking to automatically receive new issues in your electronic mailbox. E-journals also generally lack advertising. Until there is a method for profit in electronic distribution, e-journals won't become a mainstream medium.

What e-journals are available? Try InterText, a bimonthly fiction magazine, or the Health Info-Com Network Newsletter, focusing on health issues for doctors. Perhaps you're more in the mood for the Unplastic News, an ASCII free-form punk extravaganza. The cover says that Unplastic is for those who "like to read short odd pieces arranged in absolutely no order whatsoever." Its purpose, according to publisher Todd Tibbetts, ( is to make you giggle or think. The Unplastic News is the sort of nutty fun that probably couldn't exist without electronic distribution. "The Unplastic News is more of a symbol than anything else," he says. "A symbol of what is yet to come. A symbol of free information. I love to receive mail from readers in Kaliningrad or Kyoto or Zanzibar--places I didn't even think had electricity. And these people are just like us[el]reaching out to try to touch the planet."

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InterText Vol. 4, No. 3 / May-June 1994

  The Watcher   by Jason Snell

  The watcher had just passed middle age when it felt it for the
  first time, a little breath of cold as it passed by just out of
  reach. It was the first cold the watcher had felt in the
  millions of years since its coalescence.

  Time moved along, balls of mud and gas spinning in their orbits,
  the cold touch a long-forgotten memory. The small life-things
  still clung to one of the balls of mud, taking hesitant steps
  toward their brothers. The watcher continued its silent vigil.

  Then, again, the cold breath blew into its heart. Stronger this
  time, and the watcher could feel its claws as it passed. A black
  icy bird, with a sharp beak and razor-sharp talons. Moving
  through the darkness like quicksilver.

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