December 21, 2012 / Issue Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2012 / Rod's Reflections
Illustration by Lan Yan

The Regent World Online?

By Rod Wilson

Rod Wilson

Rod Wilson, PhD, has served as President of Regent College since 2000. Originally trained as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Wilson pursued theological training after completing his doctoral work. For the past thirty-five years, he has been involved in the field of counselling and consulting, pastoral ministry, and teaching and administrative roles in higher education.

On the One Hand…On the Other Hand

"Did you like the play?" "On the one hand, the choreography and music were excellent but on the other hand, I found the acting to be weak and not reflective of the quality of the overall production." In this context the use of the phrase "on the one hand...but on the other" speaks to a wrestling with strengths and weaknesses, recognizing that the overall play was neither completely good nor completely bad. In contrast to definitive statements like "I loved the play" or "What a waste of an evening," "on the one hand…but on the other" allows for thoughtful reflection focused on the object of our assessment.

The Regent World online or in print?

On the one hand...web content is easily shared, which means that the ideas and work of our faculty, students, and alumni can reach a wider audience, particularly if our subscribers share content with their friends and family. On the other hand...we risk disappointing or losing some of our current readers, who may strongly prefer to read this type of content in print.

On the one hand...we have had a fantastic spike in web traffic with the re-design of the website with 516,779 unique visits in 2012, compared to 209,409 in 2011. On the other hand...we risk the loss of the “accidental” impact The Regent World had as a “coffee table” piece that friends might pick up when coming to visit.

On the one hand...the new website continues to receive recognition and awards, thus attracting an entire new audience to us (designers, web developers, marketers, etc.), providing us a unique opportunity to tell the Regent story and present engaging content to a new group of people. On the other hand...with the cultural shift to online publishing, print is becoming rarer and therefore more anticipated and treasured, with the result that we negate its uniqueness.

On the one hand...the flexibility of web means that while browsing a current issue, people will also have access to articles from previous issues, and therefore may stumble upon unexpected content that interests them. On the other hand...pastors and others often pass out copies of The Regent World, allowing for immediate access that does not require any technological medium.

On the one hand...while the digital version will continue to follow a predictable cycle, some pieces of content that are newsworthy and time-sensitive can be posted in between issues, which will increase the relevance and timeliness of our content. On the other of the problems of our culture is its sheer speed and demand for immediate gratification, a phenomenon that is only made worse by moving away from print.

On the one hand...there is a risk of content being ignored online even if people are notified of its presence via email. On the other hand...many magazines, journals, and papers find their way to the bottom of an ever-growing pile.

On the one hand...the costs for printing and distributing over 18,000 print copies of The Regent World three times per year runs in excess of $60,000 annually, a figure that invites responsible stewardship of resources. On the other hand...web-based communication is not cheap if you provide strong content and visuals and it will still cost slightly less than $20,000 annually to put The Regent World online at three different points throughout the year.

On the one hand...The Regent World in its current form is a reminder to our generous and faithful donor community that it is the time to send in a gift. On the other hand...if the donor community is supportive, the mode of communication should not be a deterrent to their philanthropic spirit.

As a baby boomer who remembers when computers came on the scene, it is interesting to reflect on these issues. When you weigh up the “on the one hand” arguments against the “on the other hand” arguments, you recognize that while some of us might want to simply affirm or negate online communication, there are thoughtful defenses on both sides. As we transition from print to online when it comes to the publication of The Regent World, we look forward to hearing from you. Tell us your thoughts, feelings, and convictions.

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