March 24, 2014

IDG and me

I never met IDG founder Pat McGovern, who was the kind of tycoon that traveled around the world handing Christmas bonuses personally to every employee in his firm. Even so, McGovern’s passing seems like an occasion for recollections about IDG through the decades. And so:

1. My connections have always been much stronger with IDG (International Data Group) publications than with the analyst firm IDC that’s also part of the business.

2. I have at times been pretty connected to those pubs. For example:

3. Computerworld has probably always been the leading enterprise technology publication, including during the trade press’ glory years. Most memorably, pre-relational mainframe DBMS were claiming with some success to be “relational”. But when Computerworld reported Ted Codd’s “rules” for RDBMS, that was that — RDBMS were defined to be what Codd and Computerworld said they were, and the bottom dropped out of the market for DBMS that didn’t meet Codd’s criteria.

4. In line with its industry leadership, Computerworld had a classified ad section that ran dozens of pages. When I hired a research assistant in my stock analyst days, the obvious choice was to run the ad there.

5. To this day, if an ego-surf shows that I’ve been quoted in countries and languages around the world — Brazil, Australia, Iran or whatever — it’s usually something I said to IDG, which then translated and republished it around the world.

6. IDG is a big enough press organization not to be perfect.

7. Somewhere I have a bag of buttons passed out by Computerworld at trade shows with funny but sexually suggestive slogans such as “Nice computers don’t go down” and “Floppy now; hard later”. Those were also the days that nobody challenged the idea of scantily-clad booth babes. Yet it was also already the case that a number of Computerworld’s leading writers were women.

For all the concerns about tech industry sexism today, it used to be a lot worse.

8. What I said about Computerworld — and by implication other broadly-targeted IDG publications as well — in my 2009 post about the information ecosystem remains generally true.


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