Those of us who work in the print media are often asked our opinions about the future of magazine publishing. This is a fair and compelling question. It is one I usually answer with a review of new media arrivals during the past century, at the turn of which printed newspapers and periodicals reigned supreme. Soon after, commercial radio broadcasts became common and everyone said radio would destroy newspapers. Soon after radio, commercial television appeared and everyone said that this new medium would destroy radio. Then the Internet exploded onto the scene, and it was supposed to change communications yet again, so now everyone could see anything they wanted on demand and often interactively.

Undoubtedly, each new medium changed the communications landscape. But new media did not make extinct the old ones. As each new medium came along, other media adapted to a marketplace in which there were more options as to how information was received and from which sources. With this backdrop in place, I would like to invite you to attend a new global media event. On Nov. 10, 2011, this publication will launch FORGExpo 2011: An International Virtual Event. It will be the first of its kind to be held in the forging industry, and the forging industry will become one of only a handful to have had such an experience.

Those who join us through their computers on Nov. 10 will arrive at a graphic interface picturing a virtual expo lobby. On one side there will be an auditorium where our keynote speaker will open the event and answer questions in real time. Our keynoter will be Jon Tirpak, Advanced Technology International’s forging portfolio manager and executive director of Forging Defense Manufacturing Consortium. As a 30-year metalworking industry veteran, Jon’s insights into our industry run broadly and go deep. Other program speakers will be announced closer to the event date.

When our speaker finishes, visitors will be able to scroll through the exhibit booths of industry suppliers. They will carry with them their virtual briefcases, into which they can put “collateral” items of interest they pick up from exhibitor booths. A collateral item may be a brochure, technical article, video or animation clip, podcast, pre-recorded webinar, video link or similar item. In addition to a communications lounge where anyone can talk to anyone else, attendees can similarly talk privately with suppliers within their booths via real-time chat.

In short, there is almost everything at our virtual show as there is at a real trade show – almost, but not quite all. We know there is no substitute for the face-to-face contact invaluable in forming good business relationships that a real trade show offers. It is not our intent to compete with a real expo but rather to offer our readers another option in a non-show year.

Please, mark your calendars and come join the fun. It won’t cost anything to attend, but you’ll have to go to www.FORGExpo.com to register for it. There are no travel budgets to consider and no limits to the number of attendees. We look forward to seeing you there.