The age of engagement

The Engineer

Given the degree to which it’s taken over our lives, it’s easy to forget that the rise of the web is a relatively recent phenomenon. But, I’m guessing like many Engineer readers, my career began before this revolution.

For a fledgling journalist, the pre-internet world could be a lonely place. Days, weeks and even months might pass by before words committed to the page provoked a response. And although the working rhythms were perhaps gentler, and the time for research, discussion and investigation more generous, the fear that carefully crafted copy would go unread and unnoticed was never far away.

The reader engagement encouraged by the internet has banished this uncertainty. Our efforts are now instantly measurable, our errors publicly dissected, our successes trumpeted and our remit refined by the barometer of reader opinion.

Indeed, the outpouring of response to the announcement that we’re turning away from print — ironically our website’s most-commented-on story ever — was bitter-sweet confirmation that The Engineer has long given its readership what it wants and I’d like to thank all of you for your comments.

Lots of questions have been raised over the past week, and I’d like to use this opportunity to address a few of those and tell you about some of our plans over the coming months.

  • First, as some have suggested, there are no plans to put the website behind a paywall. For the foreseeable future, our great content will remain free to view.
  • The last issue of The Engineer is now available in digital form. You can view an online digital version here. Or if you want something that you can view offline, or print off and take to the bath, you can download a PDF version here. This is the first step towards a dedicated digital edition that will be launched in September and is likely to look somewhat different to the print magazine.
  • We’re also looking at digitising large sections of The Engineer’s historic archive — an endlessly fascinating repository of the UK’s industrial history.
  • Finally, we’re not completely turning our back on print. Over the coming months, we hope to publish a number of sector-specific print supplements, and we’re giving careful consideration to the suggestion that we produce an end-of-year Engineer annual that will look back at some of most striking and inspiring technological developments of the past 12 months.
  • Last but not least, we have heard your calls for the resurrection of the crossword, and hope to be able to launch an interactive, online version of the much-missed feature in the very near future.