Veterinary Medicine recently introduced a new Web-based version of the journal called Veterinary Medicine Digital. (You might have received an e-mail announcement, or two or three, about it.) Catmanager likes to see this sort of digital experimentation in the veterinary industry. And some of what the Vet Med team does is quite nice. Nonetheless he’s not sure that readers will be willing to put up with a digital version that just seems clunky when compared to the tried-and-true print version.

A link to Veterinary Medicine Digital appears prominently on the Vet Med Web page. Clicking the link takes you to . . . the January edition of Veterinary Medicine? Wait, didn’t the February edition just come out? Catmanager was able to hack the url and get to the February issue, so he guesses the Vet Med Web masters and mistresses are a little behind in updating their links but will get to it soon. In the meantime, those wanting to gain access to the digital extras (two videos and something called “Content from Vetstream”) promised on the main Vet Med page, can click here.

The digital version of Veterinary Medicine looks much like the paper version. On the right side of the screen is the cover. On the left are buttons you can push to get help. The interface is mostly intuitive, though. Click wherever you see a curled corner to “turn” the page. (Try not to think about how much faster it would be to turn the pages of the nondigital version of the journal.) Click anywhere else on the page to zoom in. At the top of the page, where it’s surprisingly easy to miss, is a menu bar with buttons that allow you to control page views, jump to articles in the journal, and print a page, among other options. Catmanager highly recommends the Contents button.

The cover of the digital version isn’t exactly like the hard copy. A whitish strip with the words “Would you feel safe . . .” and what look like falling pills or maybe kibble appears in the middle of the cover. A curled corner beckons. Give in (or resist and click the curled corner of the cover) and you’ll be treated to an add that seems to recommend massively overdosing your canine patients with NSAIDs (is this edgy veterinary humor, or am I missing something?). So, the first lesson of this new digital journal format is that it provides a new medium for advertisers, and you, the reader, can’t escape. Hurrah!

Actually the new ads seem confined to the cover. Inside pages appear to be exact digital duplicates of the hard copy catmanager keeps glancing at. The only difference is that on p. 81, the table of contents, you can mouse over the Vet Med “Digital Extra” icons to reveal a small window that promises to take you to p. 83, where you can read about the digital extras contained in this issue of Veterinary Medicine. Somewhat more useful, you can click on each article title in the table of contents to go directly to the start of that article. Finally, a way to avoid (some of) the ads!

Over on p. 83, you can mouse over the relavent portions (you’ll figure it out). Doing so causes another small window to pop up, inviting you to click and be taken to an external Web site to view the extra content. This is exciting stuff. Online videos related to the content of the journal, demonstrating skills and techniques explained in the articles. The utility of these for staff training purposes is immediately clear. Bravo to the Vet Med team!

Catmanager was amused, however, to discover that the “external Web site” containing the extra content is actually a page on the Vet Med site. (Click here for the page with the rabbit-handling videos mentioned on p. 83. You’ll then have to make another click to select either part 1 or part 2 of the video.) Okay. We have to click out of vetmedpub.com into the digital version of the journal, which is hosted by the good folks at nxtbook.com. We then have to make several clicks to get to p. 83. From there we click to go back to vetmedpub.com. Finally after one more click we get to view the pretty rabbits. Why all this work? If the extra content is to be hosted on the vetmedpub.com site, why not just link to it from the site’s main page?

Despite some wrinkles in execution that need to be ironed out, catmanager is excited to see the editors of Veterinary Medicine doing their part to drag veterinary medicine into the digital era. He hopes they’ll continue the experiment, and he looks forward to using some of the online extras for staff training.