SHANGHAI, CHINA – The week before Christmas, our Asia Pacific editor, Yorbe Zhang, and I had just wrapped up two productive days visiting a dozen robotics manufacturers in the Yangtze River Delta. On this crisp, wintry morning, we strolled along Shanghai’s famed waterfront The Bund as we recapped our meeting notes and prepared for an IoT summit that ASPENCORE was hosting the next afternoon at the British-owned Intercontinental Puxi.
We also discussed a special mission.
In 2015, when ASPENCORE was formed, we were driven by a mission to preserve technical journalism in the electronics industry as the decimating economics of the old publishing model cut down one publisher after another. As traditional media conglomerates sold off or outright shut down their technical divisions in a rational maneuver to concentrate on their more mass-audience, more profitable consumer titles, we saw the need for a new breed of media operator committed to serving the electronics industry because it passionately believed in the power of technology to improve lives and societies, because it had the editorial heft but also humility to speak as the voice of record of the industry, and because it knew continual innovation was essential to its ability to fulfill its mission. We believed then, as we believe now, that in order for the electronics industry to thrive, the technical journalism that serves it must not just survive, but also thrive.
If you have been with us since 2015, you know we have evolved cautiously. That's because we understand the titles we have acquired are storied institutions, some stretching back decades, built by the great men and women who came before us. We have gently cleaned up some of the sections and gradually expanded our complement of technical contributors, who are all practicing experts in their fields. We have slowly introduced several new original series, such as our ASPENCORE Global Report and profiles of Women in Tech, to bring you greater diversity in coverage and analysis.
Throughout these changes, one thing has not changed: our commitment to the highest editorial standards and to putting our users first. As a result, in the Americas, our editorial staff has been cited by major national news outlets as semiconductor firms rushed to consolidate. In the Asia Pacific, where our audience loves in-person learning as much as they do online, we have broadened our summit and masterclass footprint everywhere from Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei to Shenzhen, Wuhan and Chengdu. Next, we are eyeing new editorial outposts in Southeast Asia and India. In Spain and Poland, we have added to our portfolio two practical-minded sites, each founded by passionate engineers driven to educate the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. Globally, our international correspondents at large continue to unearth hidden jewels from the optical sensor factories of Grenoble, France, to the nanofiber labs in Tokyo.
And so after three years of mindful preservation and measured investments, we felt it was time to consider what changes would be required to take our mission to the next level. Where can we add new voices to meet the changing needs of our audience? How far should we take this exercise – light touches or a complete redesign? In many of our markets, we have held a defiant stance that print continues to serve an important purpose as trusted curator, when digital is inundated with endless blogs and forums that can be hard to prune, much less verify, when pressed against a project deadline. Thanks to you, our growing circulation continues to prove us right. But should some design lines, or even entire titles, be overhauled to reflect growing convergence in previously disparate technologies? How do we better connect our reporting across our mediums – print, online, broadcast and live – so the total value we create for our audience is greater than the sum of the parts?
Back in Shanghai, as Yorbe and I stepped off The Bund and turned into the bustling Former French Concession for our next meeting, we had drawn up an initial list of ideas, which we would later add to and vet back at the office. Our North American and European editorial and creative teams were briefed and had already set off to whiteboards and workshops.
While our global bureaux get to work in the coming months on the next iteration of ASPENCORE, I invite you to write in and tell us what you would like to read, hear, see and do more of with us this year. You can do so by writing to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your favorite ASPENCORE editor. As ever, a big thank-you for your support. Here's to a great 2018.
—Victor Gao is the director and publisher of ASPENCORE.