I’m not that old (the half-century mark is just around the corner), but I do remember receiving weekly hand-written letters from my parents during college. I remember being in awe of seeing a bag phone in the 1980s, then buying my first local-service cell phone and now my Blackberry with global access. I remember my first year in publishing using 5-in. floppy disks when they were actually floppy and a DOS-based writing program called XyWrite that crammed a maximum of 700KB on each "floppy." Today, those rudimentary technologies and capacities are unfathomable to teens and 20- or 30-somethings.

The days of handwritten communication are almost extinct, replaced with e-mail, texting, blogging, posting, online linking, tweeting and all manner of electronic communication for social and professional networking.

While printed books and newspapers have been around for hundreds of years, we are now witnessing the demise of those institutions. Today, Amazon’s Kindle is the newest and easiest way to carry hundreds of books, newspapers and other media in the palm of your hand. And downloading 1,000-page books takes seconds. In fact, a growing number of colleges no longer supply hardbound textbooks. All a student needs to do is download required reading to his or her Kindle.

For those of us in the print media, specifically the trade media, we are grappling with these newer methods of communication to connect with our readers. Sosland Publishing began printing its family of publications in 1921. For the past 30 years, Baking & Snack has delivered its share of insight and information to readers. For all those years, editors and publishers have networked and built relationships through the magazine, and more personally through phone interviews, trade shows and conferences, and of course visits to bakeries and suppliers.

As a publishing company, we have stayed on the cutting edge of computer technology when it is appropriate and when it offers a benefit to readers or advertisers. We were among the first US trade publications (the first in the food industry) to offer digital delivery of content including live links to advertisers and related information. Newsletters, webinars and e-mail news alerts are among the more recent technologies we have embraced.

And now there is the revolution of social and professional networking Web sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Although Baking & Snack and its editors are ready and able to participate, we wonder about the business and professional value of these forms of electronic communication to readers of the magazine. What is the usage level by industry executives and rising leaders? Do you find business or professional benefit from these networks? Are there ways to use the technology to benefit you, your job, your company or the industry? We would like to hear about them.

As we contemplate on how to embark on these activities, we want to be sure they bring value to you, our readers, and are not just a false gratification to ourselves or our sense of involvement. Relationships in the industry are invaluable, and if we can help foster these, we continue our mission.

Please let us know what you think. Your comments, ideas and suggestions will be influential in our decisions. These are powerful tools if applied appropriately. Your comments are equally powerful to us. I look forward to hearing from you.



This article can also be found in the digital edition of Baking & Snack, May 1, 2009, starting on Page 12. Click

here to search that archive.