I'm the new guy here at the Online Wildcat, and what you're reading is more than just my formal introduction to our readers - it's the first Pacing the Void.
A while ago, the people who produce the Online Wildcat decided it was time to expand. After bringing Arizona's seventh largest daily newspaper online for three years, the Online staff found that they had room to grow.
Which is where Pacing the Void comes in.
"Pacing the Void" is the name of a Taoist meditation practice that dates back to the T'ang dynasty. In Pacing the Void, a floormat or sheet painted with a map of the stars was laid on the ground, over which a person would perform a series of movements. As the person moved from star to star on the mat, they were said to have also "moved" from star to star within the cosmos, gaining wisdom as they went.
As far-fetched as it sounds, Pacing the Void has a lot in common with surfing the Internet. In both cases, a person gains information by moving through a kind of microcosm of the outside world. Floormat, computer, stars, Internet - it's all the same in a very weird way, so I'm here to Pace the Void for the Online Wildcat, and to help you do the same.
My name is Bryan Hance, and I'm the newest Online Wildcat staffer. In a nutshell, I'm a journalism junior with a computer science minor, and an ex-science and research reporter for the Wildcat. As computers have become increasingly important to my field I have directed my efforts online, which is how I ended up writing this column.
Pacing the Void isn't your usual Web-based feature aimed at a college audience. The Online Wildcat wants to give you something different than what you've already seen. Thus, no Gen-X overkill, no credit card ads, no "Spring Break in Maui" issue, no beer, and no scantily-clad models.
So why should you read Pacing the Void?
Content. Most college publications that have jumped onto the Web only provide an online copy of a printed publication. There is seldom any difference in content than what you can find at any newspaper rack around campus and therefore little reason to read the paper online, except for convenience.
The Online Wildcat staff already knows you spend enough time reading the printed Wildcat as it is, because, well, we read it cover to cover during the same boring classes as you do, even after we've proofread it four times the night before. Let's face it, sometimes the Wildcat is the only thing students do read in class, so we hope to do more than just give you another copy.
Part of my job will be to explore ways to get the readers into a more interactive paper-reader relationship, so future endeavors will be aimed at interactivity. Along with CD-ROM and product reviews, weekly technology columns, stories covering both on- and off-campus computer issues, and big splashy pages with lots of bells and whistles, there will be the chance for you to get involved with it all. We have faith in you, our online readers, who vary from UA students with blazing Ethernet connections to curious alumni and web-surfers from places like Bulgaria and Morocco.
The Online Wildcat has been kind enough to devote a Friday debut to the online columns, which gives you a weekend's worth of surfing time. There will also be other additions as the Online Wildcat experiments with ways to bring you a better online newspaper, so stay tuned, because things are going to get interesting.