Most people read their college alumni magazines for the class notes, immediately flipping to the back to see who was married, had a baby or was promoted to an envy-inducing job. The columns tend to be meatiest at this time of year -- class reunion season.
The advent of social networking on the Internet has created a quandary for these magazines, which want to maintain a conversation with alumni but have been slow to embrace the Web. Most schools have set up password-protected sites where graduates can change their contact information, drop a class note or donate money.
But younger alumni, accustomed to second-by-second updates from friends and classmates, are exchanging information in real time on Facebook and MySpace. Why wait for your alma mater to churn out a quarterly journal when you can Twitter all day?
"Certainly as people do more Facebook-ing and MySpace-ing, how they do these things changes and evolves," said John Rosenberg, editor of Harvard Magazine.
Harvard's alumni notes are all online and password-protected because of privacy concerns, Mr. Rosenberg said. While some notes do appear in the magazine, they run alongside ads that direct readers to the Web site.
"Until a few years ago, the more electronic stuff there was, the more print we had," Mr. Rosenberg said. "We've had steady growth in class notes pages, but that's probably leveled off some now."