On another planet


Periodic makeovers are a fact of life for magazines, and probably a more frequent fact of life for Web-borne magazines than for print publications. New Scientist's Planet Science, arguably Britain's leading webzine, has reinvented itself, and the result is worth a look.

If you've visited Planet Science before, you'll doubtless greet with a small cheer the news that there is no longer a registration hurdle to take on your way in. This simple mechanical change is in a way the most significant feature of the new zine, and certainly the one the people behind it will have agonised over most.

The theory of visitor registration is that it gives site publishers the information they need about their readers (for example, to sell advertising). Unfortunately, the information is largely unreliable, because people make things up. (I plead guilty myself, in similar circumstances: in registering for a certain medical site, you are asked to state your medical specialism, which I found an irresistible invitation to indulge in a spot of ER-style fantasy.)

The registration barrier also creates various problems. Planet Science's editor, David Brake, reckons that half the people finding their way to his fortified site were turning away at the gate, for a start. Then you have to invest time in responding to e-mail from people who persist but are having difficulty getting through the process. To cap it all, there is the drawback that inhuman search agents can't get through to find and index your material; for a science site, in particular, this is seriously bad news.

The next improvement, apart from a classy new visual style, is that there is a clear division between material that duplicates the printed edition of New Scientist and material that is special to the Web. Praise be. Time and again, I find myself wandering around the Web site of a paper magazine, unsure of which features I've already looked at (if I possess the paper edition), or of how well the site represents what I could get on paper (if I haven't yet paid the price).

There is new, improved content. The site climbs aboard the current bandwagon by offering "five channels and 18 main sections"; David Bracke says the practical meaning of "channels" is that there are separate, simple URLs for separate areas of interest.

You will have to look at the Planet Science site to judge the value of this academic-sounding development. What seems clear already is that this version of Planet Science is a rich publication that anyone with an interest in the scientific side of life can immerse themselves in for hours.

Chris Gill

Planet Science http://www.newscientist.com

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Primary Supply Teachers needed in Cambridge

    £21552 - £22552 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

    DT Teacher - Graphics

    £100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Part time Design and Technology...

    Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

    £20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Head of Department - English

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Head of Department for English. Wiltsh...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits