Misquoted in Mechanical Engineering Magazine

Those of you who are ASME members are familiar with the society’s Mechanical Engineering magazine.  And I’m betting that many of you, like me, read it on a regular basis.

If you’ve already read the December 2013 issue you may have seen my letter to the editor on page 9. It appears under the heading Tear Down the Wall.

Mechanical Engineering magazine, December 2013 issue, page 9

Mechanical Engineering magazine, December 2013 issue, page 9

If you can’t read the scan above, it says:

Mechanical Engineering magazine often has great content I’d like to share with my friends. For example, the Q&A with Donald Norman on page 24 of the October issue mentions the revised version of his The Design of Everyday Things, a book I believe every engineer should read.

Restricting the magazine to members only is frustrating. [emphasis added]

You may ask why you should give away your product for free. I would counter that perhaps the magazine isn’t your product; that advancement of the profession, including ASME membership, is.

My problem is that the middle paragraph has been lobotomized and obfuscates the point I was trying to make. So lest you think I am the one with the lobotomy, here is the middle paragraph as I emailed it to memag@asme.org on 29 September.

But your publisher’s decision to hide the magazine’s content behind a paywall is frustrating at best, infuriating at worst. Without a URL I can’t share and if I can’t share my friends can’t read.

Hopefully you can see that I wasn’t advocating free print subscriptions of Mechanical Engineering for everyone. What I was advocating was publishing the articles on-line in the clear (which admittedly is kinda the same thing except without the dead trees) so I can share a URL in an email, tweet, status update, post, comment or other online mechanism.

For example, the same issue has an article about development of the SR-71’s J58 engine which is worth sharing. The best I can do it tell subscribers that it’s on page 36.

Coincidentally, the 07 November 2013 issue of Machine Design reveals that 85% of engineers go online to download articles and 73% comment on articles. [The same article says only 6% of engineers use Twitter for business purposes. Which. I. Just. Don’t. Understand.]

In summary:

  • Mechanical Engineering magazine has good content.
  • I’d like to share that content on social media.
  • I can’t.
  • I wish I could.

At least they spelled my name right.

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2 Responses to Misquoted in Mechanical Engineering Magazine

  1. Hi John,
    I was going through the ASME ME digital magazine on my phone (android) using their app. Through the app, it looks like that you can share a particular page/article, that anybody can view. This includes tweeting or emailing it ;). The link opens up on my computer without logging in. It’s also possible via the digital edition of the magazine viewed on a computer, using the share link at the very top. Merry Christmas 😉

  2. John Chawner says:

    Hi Shreyas: Thanks for the update. That sounds pretty good although I prefer to read the actual paper printed magazines. I wonder why ASME didn’t mention that when I asked them about it?

    Thanks again.

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