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Paul White's Leader By Paul White
Published January 2006

Due to a temporal anomaly in the SOS server caused by a stray tachyon pulse, we managed to get hold of this Leader column from the year 2016, and thought you might like a peek too...

It's five years since we completely discontinued the paper version of Sound On Sound, following the introduction of Apple's now-ubiquitous iSlate, which many would argue is close to rendering most printed material obsolete. The latest version of the iSlate, in case you haven't seen it yet, provides two A4 pages, folds up to a size smaller than most paperbacks (it's less than a quarter of an inch thick) and has a battery life of around 28 days with a following wind — longer if you're reading on the beach, as the built-in photocells charge the battery for you. For me, the iSlate's biggest breakthrough is its dual-mode screen — conventionally backlit for indoor use or switchable to reflective mode when reading in bright sunlight. I can hardly believe we used to use the old TFT screens outdoors, where they were virtually useless!

SOS in 2016's 'SlateZine' format with embedded audio demos, video and web links.

Apple's original plan, of course, was that the iSlate would augment traditional reading libraries, by allowing users to download books without having to leave home; even the storage capacity of the very first iSlate allowed anyone to carry hundreds of heavily illustrated books around with them at the same time, and I've lost count of how many times its memory has been upgraded since then. We've recently heard that the next software revision will enable the iSlate to read the books to you, if you're foolhardy enough to try to go anywhere in a car!

As far as I'm concerned, one of the best things about Sound On Sound becoming a SlateZine is that we've been able to use its audio capabilities to add fully integrated audio and video content directly to the magazine. The iSlate's ability to run music software directly is fantastic for interactive reviews and demos, and of course it handles audio and video as well as any mainstream computer. The fact that you don't have to go out to the shops to buy it any more is also a bonus — not that it's too easy to find a shop these days! Still, at least we've seen a big increase in dealer advertising since most high streets became heritage centres. I think we'd all agree that Internet shopping, the £20 gallon of petrol and the £100 per-day congestion charge in large towns and cities are responsible for taking most walk-in retail stores (other than food markets) off the map. Not all of us are entirely happy about this, but from the magazine's point of view it's great that this state of affairs has prompted more people to stay at home and make music, especially following the controversial (to say the least) ban on alcohol in all public houses. We're finding that now the hypernet is crammed full of competing eSales outlets, targeted SlateZine marketing is the best way to get end users to visit retail sites. Virtual shopkeepers are waking up to the fact that they need more than their own virtual store to bring in business. 'Zines' such as SOS also remain the only source of unbiased opinion, as the net carries more 'advertorial' material than ever.

To turn to another subject, I'm pleased to report that the SOS Readers' Records on-line 'label' has just topped the £10,000,000 turnover mark. Of course, we're still very small potatoes compared to Apple's iTunes (confirmed recently as the biggest record company ever to exist, since it now handles over 90 percent of the world's music distribution and download business). Indeed, since the legal ruling that iTunes had to put up for sale any music submitted unless disbarred for profanity reasons, their turnover has doubled, most of the previously big-name record companies have 'left the building' and the word 'unsigned' has completely disappeared from the musician's vocabulary. Oddly, though, surround sound still hasn't caught on and my wife still won't let me have that nice 12-foot flat-screen TV in the lounge!

Paul White Editor In Chief