This is the blog supplement to the Hybrid Articles letter in Red Flag.
The article introduced hybrid articles, articles which have a print part (printed in the paper issues of Red Flag) and a digital part, posted on the ICWP blog.
One obvious advantage is that it allows for longer articles that won’t fit in the print version, or smaller footprints for articles in the print version. If enough articles are hybridized the print paper can fit more of them, making more material available to readers.
Another advantage is that the blog supplements can be updated. The update can address relevant events that have occurred after the print publication. Or address feedback about the article, correct errors, or add extra information as it becomes available. Blog posts can not be updated directly by authors; changes have to go through the moderator and, if necessary, the EG.
The supplement can also hold information and media that take up too much space in print. For example, pictures, posters, other art, and even video.
Hybrids are obviously good for the paper but also good for the blog. A blog needs content and readers and hybrids provide both: readers heading to the blog to read supplements, and the supplements themselves.
One obvious objection to publishing in hybrid form is the fear that readers won’t look at the supplements. This is a real possibility – it will happen, often enough, that readers won’t follow through to the supplement. But keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that readers read all of a print article either. Some people, because of the bosses’ lousy education, find reading a challenge. Others don’t have either Spanish or English as their first language. Authors in whatever format should never assume that they’re keeping the reader’s interest.
Authors should try to make the print article interesting enough that the reader can’t resist clicking through. At the same time they should make the print version stand alone – it should make sense on it’s own, without the supplement. And should make the main points.
One big advantage of using supplements is that the blog software gives very accurate statistics. So we can get a count of how many are following through and also find out which articles are popular.
I’m sure there are other advantages to hybrids and different ways to use supplements but I’ll leave these to future updates to this post.