Sunday, June 15, 2008

Apa-thoughts

As I wrote in my last entry, I consider a blog as an online analog of the old apazine. In fact, my blog here has the same title as my first apazine--not much'a nothin'.

In the Myriad discussion group, a member lamented that the group itself seemed a rather pale imitation of the livelier apa in its glory days. As I remarked to him there, I don't see the two as doing the same thing. A discussion group like this is more akin to a random natter entry here, a brief news update there, and the occasional comment on another post; it simply doesn't allow participants the opportunity to create a more polished product akin to a fanzine or even a blog. The closest that we could come to that would be a "blog ring" where we all interlinked to one another's blogs and made a point to post comments (akin to mailing comments) on what one another had written. I follow the blogs of a few former Myriad members currently, and I see that as much closer to what Myriad was.

Another possibility for an even more true-to-form apa would be an electronic apa that required each member to create a PDF file of his/her contribution by a set deadline, then e-mail or upload that contribution to a central site where members could download it and read it on their screens or print it out for their perusal. It would give almost every benefit of an apa--physical control of formatting, incorporation of imagery, etc.--and still maintain the set page form, but it would eliminate the expense of postage (moving large quantities of paper back and forth was costly, and has become moreso nowadays).

The great thing about a group or a blog, though, is that it requires no time from an Official Editor (and I know how much time that can take up, since Susan and I were cOE's of Myriad for several years in the early 1970s). Even an electronic apa would probably require some sort of Official Editor to manage/maintain the FTP site, handle the distribution of the PDFs or the mailing of "announcements of availability," maintain membership lists to weed out the inactive or disinterested, etc.

Is there a need for apas any more, or are they for the most part outdated remnants of a pre-internet society? The fact that so few active apa participants from years past are doing anything with the format now leads to me to believe the latter is the case...

2 comments:

Janice said...

As you know, I still think that apas have a place in the Age of Blogs -- I tend to share more personal stuff within a closed group than I do in a blog, even with the locking feature, and the guaranteed interaction rather than possible drive-by comments every once in a while is also a plus. Not to mention how much easier it is to share cartoons and so on in print :->

While SFPA is certainly much smaller than it was in its heyday, we still get two new members in the past year so It's Not Dead Yet.

cliff said...

Oh, I don't think apas will go away--at least, not for a long, long time--any more than fountain pens have gone away because of felt-tips. Furthermore, I think that there are many who feel more comfortable knowing their audience, and that's certainly a privilege you don't necesarily get with a blog.

I think that the concept of a PDF based apa is much more workable, though, because it offers all the benefit of the print apa with none of the associated expenses. Members can still produce their zines as they wish, they can still arrange text and imagery on the page as they'd like, and the readership is still controlled by the member and/or the OE/CM. However, no paper has to be wasted unless a recipient chooses to print it out; no exorbitant postal expenses are incurred; and there are no delays or worries about missed deadlines. I'm surprised that no apa has moved to this format already (then again, perhaps they have and I simply haven't heard about it).