As you'll shortly see, traditional lines of publishing will soon blur even further on the moons. Our new Reality Check feature is about to see its first installment - a formal review of a DIY project. Michael Lavorgna's RoadTour continues the concept first introduced with our Forbidden Fruit Tour and reports on complete reader systems without pretensions at review formalities (which would be impossible under those circumstances). Stephæn's RMAF 2005 coverage syndicates what he wrote for Audio Asylum. An upcoming equipment review will feature a 2nd opinion side bar by an inmate.

The underlying motivation and rationale for these developments are simple. We view ourselves first and foremost as members of a community. We're fundamentally no different from on-line posters or 'private' audiophiles. Why then erect walls between us and those members of the same community? Does being a formal reviewer mean living in isolation and traveling first class while everyone else sweats the bad food and crammed seats in coach?

For too long have certain elements in the press acted as though the industry was there to serve them. To this day, certain high-profile reviewers throw their weight around the moment they enter an exhibit room at a tradeshow. Instantly, they generate an atmosphere of fear mixed with celebrity worship, expectations for preferential -- or better yet, exclusive
-- considerations and all manner of other old school ingredients. What's up with that?

The Internet has become the great equalizer. It reminds us daily that we're all in this together. Many eyes are watching, many sharp pens are at the ready to comment and criticize and ask valid if uncomfortable questions. One way to demonstrate this sincere appreciation of community -- beyond lip service -- is to undermine reflexive tendencies at separation. We the press over here - y'all over there. Not!

So here at the moons, you'll see us experimenting with different attempts at practicing this spirit of community. Whether all of these efforts will work out as intended remains to be seen. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? This, by the way, is precisely the reason why I call our site an amateur operation (of professional conduct). As amateurs, we can more readily embrace somewhat unconventional pursuits, which a 'straight-laced' so-called professional outfit might have a far harder time with.

Is it proper etiquette to include 2nd opinions by non-staffers? Why give a damn about proper? This stuff's supposed to be fun. Folks who've forked over hard-earned bread to acquire a component and who, by their commentary and observations, prove keenness of hearing and fairness of approach, can provide very meaningful additional insights outside of what a reviewer can generate. Since we don't pretend to be more than amateur hobbyists, what really separates us from our readers? Nothing much, really.

Is it proper conduct to mix forum-published and exclusive site content? Why not? Despite its small element of troublemakers, malcontents and perennial rabid dogs, the Audio Asylum has become one of the most important hubs for audio-related real-time international information exchange between genuinely helpful hobbyists. That's one powerful resource that should be honored rather than pretended away.

Is it proper for a publisher to not attend CES as I recently announced? Here's what an established manufacturer sent me about RMAF 2005 yesterday: "We think this show will replace other magazine shows and may impact CES, which we feel has become a ridiculous expensive 'must go' show which we will likely go to again this year but hope the Denver show will supplant." My sentiments precisely. Why support an event by personal attendance if you don't believe it retains sufficient merit? Punitive attendance because you're afraid what people will think if you're not there? If enough manufacturers had the gumption to stop supporting overpriced underperforming events, those events would quickly adjust or go away - a good thing either way. It's simply that nobody wishes to be the first penguin to abandon the safety of the ice and jump into the freezing waters filled with sharks and other predators.

Again, it helps that we're mere self-avowed hobbyists. We can afford to jump and make fools of ourselves. Or so we believe. If we're wrong and go not forward but away, at least we'll have followed our convictions. That's worth a lot more than mere following - of conventions and old habits that no longer serve their intended purposes...