Pacific News Bytes Launches

Technology News BytesLocal promoter and media whiz Lincoln Jacobe is hoping the third time’s the charm with the launch of Pacific News Bytes, an all-color, glossy magazine featuring “news, features and expert advice from the top professionals in the technology industry.”

Jacobe describes the bi-monthly magazine as the descendant of Hawaii Web & Internet News and PacificNews.NET. It is currently available at Barnes & Noble (Ala Moana Center, Kahala Mall), Bestsellers Books & Music (downtown), and GCI (Restaurant Row).

Pacific News Bytes is published under the shingle of Technology News Bytes, the website for which I presume is the online component to the print publication. However, the TNB website isn’t the easiest maze to navigate (based on the open source Drupal content management system). The front-page randomizer first showed me a blurb on the the Apple iPhone as being “available June 2007,” which made me wonder if I’d clicked a dead link by accident. And while I eventually found where the actual Pacific News Bytes content was stored, it was only after clicking on half a dozen ads by accident (which, I suppose, may not be an accident).

The Pacific News Bytes press release touted their multimedia plans, and indeed, the TNB website has a smattering of video embeds and prominent links to a podcast. I couldn’t find any information on the podcast apart from an iTunes link, however (tough luck if you were hoping to subscribe any other way), and all the audio and video so far seemed to revolve around sponsors and corporate partners.

Back in 1996, Pacific Business News covered the coincidentally timed launches of both Hawaii Web & Internet News and the long-forgotten On-Line Connection. The piece noted the quick demise of the Hawaiian Hard Drive tabloid, and quoted Michael Feeney of the best-forgotten Internet C@fe on Kapahulu Avenue, who was doubtful that Honolulu could sustain more than one hardcopy technology publication.

Given how pervasive technology is in our daily lives today, the prospects for a local tech magazine are probably better than they were a decade ago. And if Pacific News Bytes indeed gets its genes from two prior generations of publishing, its survival seems even more likely.

Hopefully, the TNB website will help fill in the blanks during the two-month delay between printings (which is practically an eon in Internet time). And frankly, I’d like to see them do much more online. Where’s the blog, the personal voice (versus marketing speak)? Where’s the venue for interaction with TNB or other TNB readers (beyond comments on “nodes”)? And they most definitely need to flesh out their video and audio content. There’s more to podcasting than iTunes!

I’m definitely going to seek out the debut issue, as anything that mixes Hawaii and technology is automatically near and dear to my heart. But no matter how sexy and tactile a thick glossy magazine feels in the hand, its the relevance and quality of the content that will determine whether people pick it up.

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