About The Diplomatic Pouch

Manus Hand, Publisher

Hi Ho!

Notice anything? Well, in case you didn't, brace yourself. The Diplomatic Pouch you know and love is no longer. Yes, what used to be just this way excellent Webzine has turned into The Diplomacy Home Page (taking over for Josh Smith's page). As I'm sure you've noticed, the Pouch now contains a bunch of subPouches, a mere one of which is the magazine you've grown so accustomed to curling up with.

I won't go into any details here on the new layout, the contents of and plans for the various sections -- this is done elsewhere. Instead, what we're concerned with here is what's happened to The Zine, how this came about, and why.

Why The Pouch Metamorphosed

From the beginning, The Diplomatic Pouch was intended to provide forums for all types of Diplomacy play -- not just play-by-email, and, indeed, not even just provide only what are called "sercon" ("serious constructive") articles. The grand vision was to make The Pouch the zine for the whole Hobby.

The Pouch was handicapped in its effort to fulfill this charter, and to some extent, it still is. However, as the year wore on, word about the magazine spread and some postal players and tournament goers began to take notice and to enter into correspondences with me. The Pouch began publishing announcements of upcoming face-to-face tournaments, and was actively working with postal 'zines on limited cooperative ventures.

It was a pet peeve of mine that tournament announcements (in particular) would be published in The Diplomatic Pouch. Not because I'm against having these events publicized or being the one publicizing them, of course, but rather because after each issue is published, the plan was to never touch it again -- just as if it was an old-fashioned paper magazine. This meant that tournament announcements would stay in the zine forever, even though the chances of someone ten years from now wanting to read about the "upcoming" 1995 tournaments was very remote. Why should I pay for diskspace to keep useless information around?

Another problem was the magazine's links to other Diplomacy pages. This took the form of a Simon Szykman article entitled "We Are Not Alone" which was published in the initial issue of the 'zine. Simply by virtue of the way the world works, this article was constantly being updated, in direct contradiction to the plan that the published issues of the magazine would be set in stone. Compounding this, there was no way to tell you, the all-important reader, when these updates were made and what they entailed.

The new layout of The Pouch addresses these issues and more. I'll once more resist the temptation to go into the contents and agenda for the various other sections of The Pouch, leaving it to you to explore them for yourself. I hope you like what you see, and the plans for the future.

I also want to say that while the original vision of The Pouch as the zine for the Hobby might actually be a little bit closer to reality now, one thing I have learned over the past year is that it's a very big hobby. I am very happy and proud of the respect that The Pouch has garnered from everyone everywhere, but I know now that the best it could ever hope to become would be one of many hundreds of Hobby efforts.

What Happened To The Zine

In keeping with this plan to make the zine issues unchanging beasts (well, as authors' e-mail addresses change, this much will be kept updated), the "We Are Not Alone" article was pulled out of the Spring, 1995 movement issue. Not only did it bother me to be having to update this article all the time, but I received mail from more than one reader that the set of links to other resources seemed to be in an odd, out of the way place, to say the least. So this article initially became the genesis of the new Online Resources section of The Pouch. Josh Smith, when apprised by Simon Szykman of this new section, indicated a willingness to hand over the mantle of "The Diplomacy Home Page" and so the Online Resources section, as you can tell if you visit it, became a lot more than this initial article.

One of the resources to which the new Online Resources section links is the "Openings Library," initially published in the Spring 1995 Retreat issue of the magazine and billed as an unfinished, changing document. In the remodel, then, the library was removed from the magazine and became the first deposit in what will be called the "DP Library;" those resources contained and maintained in The Pouch itself.

Other obvious removals from the various issues of the magazine, per the discussion above, were the articles concerning face-to-face tournament play. As mentioned, it seemed that these would soon be outdated, and so they became the initial foundation of a new "outside the zine" section devoted to face-to-face play.

Finally, a number of factors influenced the creation of what is called "The Diplomacy Showcase." Some of these included the interest in running more games than just the one dippouch game for which the magazine is known; games which would educate, entertain, and tie in with articles in the magazine. The first games to be showcased will be an educational series ("exactly why'd he make that move?"), with plans for a No-Press Payola game (see my article on Payola and Simon's article on No-Press elsewhere in this issue).

The dippouch game, as the faithful reader knows, was chronicled in a Stephen Beaulieu subzine called The Garden. Due to the nature of the game, the subzine had news to report about the game at various times throughout the year -- not only at the publication date of the main magazine. Because of this, there was always a logisitical issue -- The Garden would be published and then updated a couple times as time went by in each issue of The Pouch. Yick!

So The Garden -- and all information about the dippouch game -- has been removed from the new incarnation of the magazine and placed in Stephen's Diplomacy Showcase, which is one of the many constantly-updated sections of the new Pouch (indeed, the magazine will be the only section which will publish to deadlines).

To sum up, if you're looking for something from the above selection of articles, you're looking in the wrong place if you're still looking in The Zine. The Pouch is now a great big, better organized place.

Who's With Me?

Did I do all this alone? Heck, no. I couldn't. No one could. The longtime reader knows that even publishing the zine is not a one man job. Over the first year of the zine, I've adopted two ad hoc co-publishers. First, Simon Szykman, who basically single-handedly put the Fall Movement issue out. Second, Stephen Beaulieu, who did the same for Fall Retreat. (I had a very busy real-life Fall!)

When putting the vision of the new Pouch together in my mind, I sent the initial ideas to these two great friends of mine asking if they would like to be involved in moving The Pouch toward this vision. To their immense credit and my elation, they both said yes. The three of us formed ourselves into what we came to call the "DP Council" and we set to work designing and building the new Pouch.

While this remodeling effort progressed, the Winter issue of the magazine was being put together. I received the Tactics Library from Matt Self as an article contribution. I was understandably impressed by his effort, and before I knew it, Matt had knocked himself out doing a lot more stuff for The Pouch. I couldn't resist asking him to join the DP Council, and he's been an integral part of the team ever since, even bringing in a graphic designer to assist in setting up the new scheme of things.

We're sure that The Diplomatic Pouch will continue to evolve as time passes. Don't be surprised to be back here in the "About The Pouch" article reading about some other minor or major Zine changes which are implemented with the next issue, due out in March.

Well, that's the story. I hope you like the current issue of the magazine and The Diplomatic Pouch as a whole. I don't think the zine suffered as a result of our efforts; rather, I believe The Pouch benefits by this new organization. I also believe that this new organization leaves room for growth, for the addition of other sections (which as yet are just taking root in this fertile mind of mine). As you can see if you take a stroll around, the DP Council is looking for a few more members, because we realize we can't do everything we want to do without them. Perhaps you are thinking you are just the one to fill a void, and if you are thinking that (I hope you are), don't hesitate to get in touch.

The Benefactor List Grows!

I hope you'll all be happy (and perhaps a bit ashamed) to know that The Diplomatic Pouch received its first cash contribution from a happy reader. I, as the Publisher, couldn't have been more pleased to graciously accept, from my new hero, stevel@clinton.com, a twenty-five dollar bill sent to me through snail mail.

Yes, that's right. A twenty-five dollar bill. Those of you outside the United States might or might not know that currency is not issued in twenty-five dollar units. Nonetheless, the twenty-five dollar bill I received was legal tender in every way, and I've even passed -- er, spent -- it already.

I used the twenty-five dollars which Steve sent to fund the remodeling of the Pouch. Just think what could be done if you too contributed to offset the diskspace and access charges which The Diplomatic Pouch makes my wife write a monthly check to support.

Thank you thank you thank you, Steve! I promised from the inaugural issue that anyone contributing money would be listed in a benefactor's list in the magazine. Well, you've got the list to yourself for now. And in my book, you deserve it.

Enjoy The Pouch, Everyone!

Manus Hand, Publisher

If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, and clicking on the mail address above does not work for you, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.