Despite the emergence of blogging, I still like to pick up and read technology magazines now and again. This can be a bit of a challenge, as there are a lot of technology magazines, and many of them are free, advertiser supported.
Not only do you get what you pay for (some of the freebie mags are pretty bad), but it’s worse – time you spent reading bad magazines could be spent on something more valuable. In other words, reading trade rags can have a real opportunity cost – you can, in effect, “lose” time and money on those freebies.
Which brings me to this: Which magazines do I read, why, and what is my technique for telling them apart?
My technique is pretty simple. I have two questions:
1) Would I actually fork over any real money to subscribe to this magazine?
2) How I know/respect the people who run these magazines?
That said, here are a few that pass the test:
A) Better Software Magazine(*)
I actually paid for this, back when it was Software Testing and Quality Engineering Lee Copeland is the editor-in-chief of BSW, and Google recently flew him out to do a tech talk on metrics and proving the value of testing – you can watch it here. In that talk, Lee openly admits that there is no truly accepted definition for testing, and describes several bogus metrics. The magazine attempts to appeal to a wide audience – testers, devs, managers – and it seems a little watered down. Still, I get quite a bit out of the editorials, and the writing is a notch or two above the typical trade rag. You can apply for a free subscription to BetterSoftware here.
B) Software Test&Performance Magazine (*)
I haven’t met the principals at BZMedia, but I do enjoy ST&P. Rob Sabourin and Mike Kelly are two regular writers for ST&P, and Scott Barber had a long-running editorial series that was worth my time in and of itself. You can apply for a free subscription here. The editorial coverage seems to be moving toward developers, developer-tools, and Java/jUnit, but I still see something interesting in every issue.
C) Inc. Magazine
The magazine for small business. Even though it’s not really a technology magazine, I find that I devour every issue of Inc. The magazine is inspiring, and the writing, my goodness, the writing is excellent. If only requirements docs and specifications were written this well – people would actually read them!
Seriously, good writing gets into you. Half of my strategy for improving your personal writing skill is to surround yourself with good writing. (The other half is to write. A Lot.) I pay about $10 per year for Inc., and have for the past three or four years. If you have ever considered going independent, or even starting your own micro-business, I would seriously recommend Inc. Plus, these guys walk the walk – Inc. is a magazine about small business that runs as an independent business unit of around 100 people. Inc. even has a trial subscription offer, if you are interested.
Nobody paid me anything for these suggestions. I just got a copy of Inc. yesterday and felt like sharing.
If you would like to know what trade rags I do *not* recommend, email me privately. 🙂
(*) – Fair Warning: I work with this publisher, or have appeared previously in the magazine