I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the worm finally turned sometime in the past year or two on the question of whether a magazine can survive without a Web site. For a while, I suppose, you didn’t necessarily need one, though we’ve been online in some form or another since November 1995. In the early days, our webmaster was a skinny, charmingly odd, reformed rock and roller who embraced the idea of exporting not just the sensibility of Texas Monthly but of Texas itself to this new frontier known as the Internet. Today, our webmaster is a skinny, charmingly odd, reformed rock and roller who embraces the same thing. Maybe the world isn’t that different after all.
Of course, even at our kitschiest, I’m not sure we’d go out to market again with the Triple W Ranch (www—get it?). That was our first attempt to translate the Texas Monthly brand to the digital platform, and you’d better believe that every conceivable form of Western-themed clip art was in heavy rotation (think lassos and barbed wire). We had no idea what we were doing back then—no one in the industry did—so we tried just about everything: lots of Web-only content, no Web-only content, everything in the current issue for free online, nothing in the current issue for free online, and so on. It helped that there was very little risk, since, until recently, so few people were paying attention. It almost didn’t matter if we failed; the point was to figure the thing out. It was like opening a play in New Haven to work through the kinks before heading to Broadway.
Well, it’s showtime, folks. This month, after a twelve-year run at the How Little Can We Spend and Still Show Our Faces Theater, we’re finally ready to mount a blockbuster production of texasmonthly.com. Over the past year, we’ve explored all the opportunities made possible by the Web to reach