From PC Techniques #36, February/March 1996
After the speech, a British chap came up to me and said, "Um...y'know, Jeff, there already is an .EXE Magazine in the UK."
Magazines is a crazy business. I recall Don Taylor's wonderful Get-TUG-gether conference in Bremerton, Washington, in July 1989. I gave the keynote address, and as part of the address announced that Keith Weiskamp and I were launching .EXE Magazine as the logical successor to Turbo Technix. The applause was deafeningand then after the address, a British chap named Julian Bucknall came up to me and said, "Um, y'know, Jeff, there already is an .EXE Magazine in the UK."
It took us an entire agonizing month to devise another title. In defiance of conventional wisdom, our magazine was to be a generalist magazine, and we didn't want to weld the title to any particular product line. By not being C Techniques, I might not get the worst of the C chauvinists, but what I wanted were the Zen guys anyway, who understood that the best solution to a problem transcends any single language or toolset. I wanted to section the industry not along the what axis, but along the perpendicular how axis. PC TECHNIQUES was pretty much what we were about, and the reason we didn't call it PC Programming Techniques is that that would be about three times longer than a magazine title should be. If we sold it to programmers, they'd know what kind of techniques we were talking about, right?
Shazam, they sure did. Except for the occasional letter we got to Pizza Techniques, and a news release (which I still have on my wall) announcing the opening of some company's second noodle house in Guangzhou, China, people were pretty clear on the concept.
Names do, however, get in the way at times. A few years back, a monster calendar company threatened to sue us for using the term "At a glance" in the summary box of our product reviews. "At-a-Glance" was a line of calendars they made, and everybody knows that a calendar is easily confused with the reviews page of a magazine. (You wonder why I hate trial lawyers?) So we called it "Snapshot" instead. Lose the little ones, my old man used to say. And you can tell at a glance whose calendars I don't buy.
On my door I also keep my famous collection of Jeff Duntemann Permutations. Every time somebody sends me something to an approximation of my name, I cut out the address label and hang it on the door. So come to my office and behold Jeff Duncan, Gaff Dunteman, Steve Duntemann, Jess Tuntemann, Jeff Punteann, Don Temann, Jeffis Sutemann, Self Duntemann, Jeff Dunkmann, Jeff Dunningham, Juff Duntemann, Jeff Dunte-Mann, and of course my all-time favorite, Jeff Stuntman. Close can be good enoughbut I have to wonder what marvels of imagination never found their way to me.
Somewhen since the magazine's inception, programming finally went mainstream. No longer legend's nerdy geeks in mismatched plaid suits, programmers now wear earrings with the best of them, and some make more money than even successful rock musicians. (The world's richest man is not a rap artist.) The audience for our magazine is vaster by far than it was six years agobut also far more diverse, and PC TECHNIQUES isn't as implicitly meaningful as it once was.
A little work and research showed that Visual Developer would be an effective name for the magazine we were already redesigning. To avoid an obvious but unfortunate abbreviation, we decided to coin a clever and (we assumed) innocuous one: VIZ. Sure as hell, one of our UK fans sent us a copy of a UK publication called VIZ. And while not quite pornographic, VIZ was the quintessence of bad taste; basically a collection of scatalogical comics, fart jokes, and lampoons of obscure British celebrities. There must be a group of people somewhere who find it funny, but if I never get within a hundred miles of them I'll be just as happy.
Exit our VIZto the online world, at least, and perhaps oblivion. Would y'all agree to keep me happy by calling us Visual Developer Magazine, or VDM, for short? That would be seriously cool, not to mention courteous. And truein the sense that a name should be a true representation of what it identifies.
When you turn the page, the era of PC TECHNIQUES comes to a close, and the era of Visual Developer Magazine begins. A truer name will perhaps bring what we really are into clearer focus: The journal for state-of-the-art software development, where seeing is succeeding. See you there.