The Short Version
When you start a business or any project, sometimes new information comes in and you adapt. It’s called a pivot when changes are big. In this case, I discovered libraries are a potential huge market for the magazine because libraries have started to use technology to support their communities. It’s a great fit. However, libraries prefer to subscribe to print magazines. So I added the ability to create a print a version of the online magazine.
While creating a print version, I fixed a number of issues with the web site design, magazine name, pricing, and other things.
The Long-ish Version
I publish the online magazine you’re reading now. It allows me to explore computer science, programming, and how kids, teachers, and parents use technology. The magazine is much more journalism than curriculum. It’s much more Popular Science than Codecademy. For various reasons, the magazine launched with the name Help Kids Code despite the name not describing the full purpose and interest of the magazine for readers and myself.
However, the name Help Kids Code is memorable, and time was short, so I launched August 2013 with the name. I’m humbled, amazed, and amused by the response of readers and subscribers to my magazine, as well as people I’ve talked with while researching articles and interviews. Publishing the magazine is great fun.
A year ago, my wife and best friend for over two decades died from lung cancer. This led to me taking time off last fall to help our two teenagers. I also spent time thinking about what to do with the rest of my life, which includes the magazine. From the magazine launch onwards, I knew parts of the magazine were out of balance. And I finally had time to focus and fix these problems.
My primary interests in life are to help others (I grew up in a large family), have fun (I grew up in a large family), and learn. The magazine meets these criteria. While I work staff jobs or for clients, the magazine meets both my personal and professional interests. While I’ve had fun in large corporations, helped people, and learned a lot, it’s a different vibe.
In looking at alternative names this time, the name that felt most right was Kids, Code, and Computer Science. Yes, it’s long. It’s generic, too, and maybe boring. But it has the virtue of accuracy. I want to write, and hire others to write, about kids and how they use coding, computer science, and technology. The new name allows me to fit in adults, too, as parents, teachers, and role models. There’s lots of neat stuff to find and write about on these topics.
With the patient on the surgery table, so to speak, I decided to make changes to fix other problems.
The original website design loaded slowly. And the right column of data competed with the experience of reading a story. I’m religious about creating a clean enjoyable reading experience. There are no ads for this reason. And links are always at the bottom of a story, not in the copy to distract reading. The magazine site is meant to be a haven for readers, myself included, who feel way too distracted elsewhere online.
I also have had a number of online subscribers ask for a print version of the magazine. Plus libraries often subscribe only if there is a print version of a magazine. Because many community libraries are doing neat things with technology, for example, setting up 3D printers and teaching digital literacy, I want the magazine to be available to libraries.
Providing a print version creates a number of problems, however. The biggest problem is cost. Initially, the magazine is available through print on demand which is expensive. Eventually, I expect the costs of a print version to go down as print subscriptions go up.
The print version also takes more time to produce. In addition, I’ve wanted more time to research and organize data into useful resource pages. If you want to buy a 3D printer, for example, you have to go to half a dozen sites, or more, to find all the options. The same problem occurs when you look for summer technology camps, or coding schools, or programming languages used in schools.
I also want to write more complicated and time consuming stories, for example, to write about how people code MRI machines or code and interpret data from the Cassini orbiter flying around Saturn. This stuff is magic. But someone wrote the code that makes these technologies work.
For these reasons, I’ve reduced the number of issues from 10 a year to 6. The print version will be supported by the online magazine. And I hope the new title name, new website design, a print version, and other changes will make it even easier for you to find information about kids, coding, computer science, and technology.
And, as always, you’re welcome to tell me where I’m wrong and what might make the experience more interesting and enjoyable for you. Use the contact page to reach me any time. And if you want to support independent research and writing about kids, coding, and computer science, definitely subscribe to the online magazine or the print magazine plus online access.
Thank you for your time today!
Publisher, Editor, Web Producer, Writer
Kids, Code, and Computer Science Magazine
February 1, 2015