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Unpopular Science

30 March 2017

I started collecting Popular Science magazines back in the 1970s and now have a pretty good collection of these great editions.

Of course with the arrival of the Net and online publishing, Popular Science changed its name and is now known as PopSci. Like its peer, Popular Mechanics, PopSci has become thinner and less interesting than those great editions from the 1940s through 1960s but it still occasions a read.

I used to check the website every morning as part of my ritual for making sure I was "in touch" with the world of science and also as a potential source of ideas for the day's Aardvark column.

About a week or so ago, PopSci changed -- and not for the better.

It seems that PopSci has become regionalised and if you're operating from a Kiwi IP group, you get redirected to the Australian site -- which is just not worth bothering with.

What clown came up with that idea?

Not only is the Aussie site pitifully lacking up-to-date content but the redirect means that links to the US site are broken if you try and access them from Australasia. Browse Google News and click on a Popular Science story using a Net connection from this part of the world and you'll end up at the front page of the Aussie site with an "oops" message.

Using a US-based proxy I can still get to the original site but there'd be no point in including any links to that site because if you're using a Kiwi ISP you'll get redirected and very few of the stories on the US site actually appear on the crappy Aussie version.

It strikes me as ludicrous that a publisher would start regionalising access to their content like this -- especially just as much of the TV and movie industries start realising that de-regionalisation is the future.

I suspect that PopSci has done a deal with an Aussie crowd to give them "exclusive access" to the content in return for a big fist-full of cash and, to protect their investment, PopSci has agreed to redirect requests received in the USA to the Aussie server.

Boo... hiss!

Why not let the reader choose?

If I wanted to read then that's what I'd type into my browser and if I want to see then I should be allowed to -- not end up shanghai'd back to Oz.

Of course there's nothing I (or any other reader) can do except to simply give up on PopSci in the same way I gave up on Popular Mechanics when they introduced a really crappy website design a few years ago.

Ah well, at least I have my hardcopies from the era when each one was a trove of interesting information and a fantastic insight into the society and culture of the day.

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