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Publishers on Push: Hans Eisenbeis
Apr 24, 1997 :: Hans Eisenbeis

In many respects, I think the whole issue is moot. Even -- god help us -- semantic. The distinction between pull and push has only one meaningful application here in Minnesota, and it's in cars, not computers: whether your car has front- or rear-wheel drive. A technology with seasonal relevance at best.

I'm not trying to be flip. At least not just flip. Is a newspaper a push or a pull technology? Well, if you subscribe, it's push. If you drag your sorry butt out of bed and walk to the corner to plug a machine -- it's pull (no doubt more of a pull for some than others). Even if you factor in so-called interactivity, I don't see the issue as any more compelling than any other rear-end protocol for fulfillment. To get into the nitty-gritty of media consumption: as readers we are pulling and being pushed in a hundred different directions all the time. Take the simple example of a newspaper or magazine: that was a nice cut line on that story about Prince's deformed baby , I'm looking for the jump page -- a nice server-side push. Now I'm turning the page. Clearly a little pull there! It seems to me that all media are interactive, and none is entirely active or passive. My TV -- the archetypal push technology -- doesn't turn itself on. And if it did, it would still have a tendency to show me something my demographic "pulled" through our good friends at Nielsen.

As a writer and editor, I'm primarily interested in what is predicated by the push or pull. In other words, (a) will my car make it through all this snow? and (b) is it a car I'm not too embarrassed to be seen in when I get there?

Sorry to have pushed this provincial little metaphor on you. But, after all, you pulled...

Hans is a classic middle child who didn't say the "F" word until he was a teenager. He's the editor and producer of Request Line



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