High Times, the magazine for marijuana enthusiasts, has a really, really good softball team. They are called "the Bonghitters," and are defending their championship in the New York Media Softball League.
The mainstreaming of marijuana has helped High Times thrive despite the downturn in print media... This success translates to stability for the team. Media softball rosters are flexible, a mix of current and former staffers, friends, and friends of friends. There's occasional grumbling about "ringers," but usually the only credential you need is an invitation. Still, every team needs a few regular employees. Typically, there's an employee who schedules games, recruits players, sets lineups, and makes sure somebody brings a bat. Each team also needs a keeper of the park permit; the best fields and time slots are almost impossible to get if it lapses. So staff cuts or overhauls can be catastrophic.
"The New Yorker Minute" is a reader-service email newsletter that triages articles in The New Yorker (the magazine) to let you know whether or not they're worth reading. (Or, alternatively, how excited you should be to read them or not read them). Each issue is sorted into "Read This," "Window-Shop These," and "Skip Without Guilt." Even the poetry, fiction, and cartoons get short notes from editors dedicated to those sections. Fun, surprisingly useful, nearly essential.
Our family subscribed to National Geographic for awhile when I was a kid. The maps and photos contained within brought this country bumpkin in closer contact with the world at large than even the TV news (which was admittedly all of 13-inches and in B&W to boot).
Via email, Jacobs told Knauss that PAPER believed "they've got something that they think will generate at least 100 million page views, and will their current infrastructure support that?"
"This sort of cold thrill goes down my spine," Knauss said, "and the only thought that makes it out of my brain is, 'Eep.'"
He continued: "I reflexively begin designing the architecture in my head. It's a nerd impulse. Dogs chase after thrown balls, system administrators design to arbitrary traffic."
I love this article for a whole bunch of reasons (including that it's written by a friend about two other friends, one of whom is responsible for keeping kottke.org's servers going), but I was just talking about the burstable web scaling issue with a friend the other day. She was trying to make a reservation for a ferry. The reservations open for the entire season on a particular day at a particular hour and in a matter of hours, most (if not all) of the reservations are taken. And of course, their tiny web site and backend systems melts into a huge puddle that day, people can't get in, and everyone wastes 4 hours of their day trying to make a simple reservation. Basically, the ferry company needs to be Ticketmaster, but only for 3 or 4 hours every year. That's a weird problem and it's been an issue on the web since forever, and no one has solved it in an entirely off-the-shelf way. Someone get on this, riches await.
Polaroids were the first social network. You'd take a picture, and someone would say, "I want one, too," so you'd give it away and take another. People shared Polaroids the way they now share information on social media. Of course, it was more personal, because you were sharing with just one person, not the entire world.
I met Andy Warhol in the '70s at the Whitney Museum and started doing projects with him because he loved my photographs. He'd never had a pal who was a photographer, so I was his guru, showing him what cameras to buy, what pictures to take. When Polaroid came out with its SX-70 model, the company sent big boxes of film and cameras to the Factory, which was at 860 Broadway (it's now a Petco). Andy loved Polaroid. Everything was "gee whiz"; it was brand-new. So immediate. I took photos of him with his new toy.
Pathetic. And ESPN the Magazine isn't any better...most of the female athletes on their covers over the past five years are naked. Well, except for this one of the incredibly talented skier Lindsey Vonn with her face photoshopped onto Sharon Stone's body in the leg uncrossing scene from Basic Instinct.
As Williams notes on Twitter, Sports Illustrated "could show women as more than bikinis. As athletes." and "I want my daughters to read sports magazines & see themselves represented, not Barbie." Seems like we need a Title IX for sports magazines.
Update: Vonn's face was not photoshopped onto Stone's body. Which is...better, I guess? Maybe?
Publication design is a field addicted to ceaseless reinvention. Sometimes a magazine's redesign is generated by a change in editorial direction. More often, the motivation is commercial: the publisher needs to get the attention of fickle ad agency media buyers, and a new format -- usually characterized as ever more "scannable" and "reader-friendly" -- is just the thing. In contrast, one senses that each of the changes in The New Yorker was arrived at almost grudgingly. Designers are used to lecturing timid clients that change requires bravery. But after a certain point -- 80 years? -- not changing begins to seem like the bravest thing of all.
The New Yorker's design changes over the years have been so slight that, as Bierut notes, the latest issue looks remarkably like the first issue from 1925.
Lantern is a search engine for the books, periodicals, and catalogs contained in the Media History Digital Library. If you are a fan or student of pre-1970s American film and broadcasting, this looks like a goldmine. Here are some of the periodical titles and the years available:
Movie Classic 1931-1937
Home Movies and Home Talkies 1932-1934
Talking Machine World 1921-1928
So how do we find content for these magazines? It's a question we wracked our brains on long and hard before deciding that the most valuable service for our readers would be to craft issues around individual subjects -- think barbecue, pizza, or pies -- by combining the most popular recipes and features in our archives into single, elegant collections.
But we have chosen to recognise an in-house design team which has had an enormous impact on its industry. Under creative director Richard Turley, (not forgetting editor Josh Tyrangiel) Bloomberg Businessweek has trounced its rivals with a verve and energy that recalls the heyday of the printed magazine.
Not a surprise really, but the New Yorker's endorsement of Obama for President is a clear headed assessment of his first term and an effect critique against the "increasingly reactionary and rigid" Republican Party which Romney, to his discredit, has aligned himself with.
Perhaps inevitably, the President has disappointed some of his most ardent supporters. Part of their disappointment is a reflection of the fantastical expectations that attached to him. Some, quite reasonably, are disappointed in his policy failures (on Guantánamo, climate change, and gun control); others question the morality of the persistent use of predator drones. And, of course, 2012 offers nothing like the ecstasy of taking part in a historical advance: the reëlection of the first African-American President does not inspire the same level of communal pride. But the reëlection of a President who has been progressive, competent, rational, decent, and, at times, visionary is a serious matter. The President has achieved a run of ambitious legislative, social, and foreign-policy successes that relieved a large measure of the human suffering and national shame inflicted by the Bush Administration. Obama has renewed the honor of the office he holds.
This paragraph is terrifying:
In pursuit of swing voters, Romney and Ryan have sought to tamp down, and keep vague, the extremism of their economic and social commitments. But their signals to the Republican base and to the Tea Party are easily read: whatever was accomplished under Obama will be reversed or stifled. Bill Clinton has rightly pointed out that most Presidents set about fulfilling their campaign promises. Romney, despite his pose of chiselled equanimity, has pledged to ravage the safety net, oppose progress on marriage equality, ignore all warnings of ecological disaster, dismantle health-care reform, and appoint right-wing judges to the courts. Four of the nine Supreme Court Justices are in their seventies; a Romney Administration may well have a chance to replace two of the more liberal incumbents, and Romney's adviser in judicial affairs is the embittered far-right judge and legal scholar Robert Bork. The rightward drift of a court led by Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito -- a drift marked by appalling decisions like Citizens United -- would only intensify during a Romney Presidency. The consolidation of a hard-right majority would be a mortal threat to the ability of women to make their own decisions about contraception and pregnancy, the ability of institutions to alleviate the baneful legacies of past oppression and present prejudice, and the ability of American democracy to insulate itself from the corrupt domination of unlimited, anonymous money. Romney has pronounced himself "severely conservative." There is every reason to believe him.
Howler is a new magazine about soccer. It's a big, glossy publication that will come out four times a year with distinctive, original writing about American and international soccer, as well as some of the most striking art and design you'll find in any publication being made today. (We know that's a bold claim, but we really believe it's true.) We've been working on Howler for months, and issue one is nearly ready to be printed, shipped, and in your hands by late summer.
Blown Covers is a new book that details the illustrations that never made it to the front cover of the New Yorker. At Imprint, Michael Silverberg interviews Françoise Mouly, the book's author and the New Yorker's art editor since 1993, and shares some of best rejected covers. I like this one by Christoph Niemann showing the attempted return of the Statue of Liberty to France:
"Think of me as your priest," she told one of them. Mouly, who cofounded the avant-garde comics anthology RAW with her husband, Art Spiegelman, asks the artists she works with -- Barry Blitt, Christoph Niemann, Ana Juan, R. Crumb -- not to hold back anything in their cover sketches. If that means the occasional pedophilia gag or Holocaust joke finds its way to her desk, she's fine with that. Tasteless humor and failed setups are an essential part of the process. "Sometimes something is too provocative or too sexist or too racist," Mouly says, "but it will inspire a line of thinking that will help develop an image that is publishable."
We can now offer subscriptions on the iPad, and we can give our U.S. and Canadian print subscribers access to iPad issues at no additional cost. Before long, we hope to be able to give the same access to international subscribers beyond Canada and to existing digital-only subscribers.
Still missing (and probably unlikely to ever happen): print subscriber access to the full text of every article on the web site (not the Digital Edition, which offers a suboptimal reading experience IMO).
Redesigns are always interesting, and non more so than when a title as significant and influential as the NYT makes changes. Duplessis has worked with new editor Hugo Lindgren (ex-Bloomberg Business Week and New York magazine) to provide a new vision for the title, researching the magazine's archive and becoming fascinated by its 60s and 70s incarnations.
For some reason, it reminds me of Monocle, even though it probably shouldn't? (thx, @nedward)
"It's not about being retro," explained Alex Storch, the Editor-in-Chief. "It's about pushing forward. People want quality things they can hold and touch, not pseudo-journalism and themed template design on their computers. We're excited for people that have only seen David's books and a heavily worn copy of Ray Gun to experience his mastery of the form. We'd also like them to read some inspiring articles as well."
The theme of the 64-page first issue is history, so Keller and co. have collected stories -- and the expected gorgeous photography -- all about the Laundry and every aspect of the restaurant: longtime staffers, former cooks, journalists.
Ruth Reichl and Michael Ruhlman pen articles. Chefs of all kinds make cameos. But it's more than that -- the magazine also highlights lesser known, yet essential parts of the French Laundry machine, like the wine producer who partners with the restaurant to create the Cuvee French Laundry.
"I had so much freedom to do everything I wanted. I think I did a good job." But she added, "When everything is good, maybe I think it's the time to do something else." She expects to complete issues through March. She said she was not sure what she would do after that. "I have no plan at all," she said.
Fresh off several years as Design Director of nytimes.com, Khoi Vinh gives his opinion of the current batch of iPad magazine apps. I think he's right on.
My opinion about iPad-based magazines is that they run counter to how people use tablets today and, unless something changes, will remain at odds with the way people will use tablets as the medium matures. They're bloated, user-unfriendly and map to a tired pattern of mass media brands trying vainly to establish beachheads on new platforms without really understanding the platforms at all.
The fact of the matter is that the mode of reading that a magazine represents is a mode that people are decreasingly interested in, that is making less and less sense as we forge further into this century, and that makes almost no sense on a tablet. As usual, these publishers require users to dive into environments that only negligibly acknowledge the world outside of their brand, if at all - a problem that's abetted and exacerbated by the full-screen, single-window posture of all iPad software. In a media world that looks increasingly like the busy downtown heart of a city - with innumerable activities, events and alternative sources of distraction around you - these apps demand that you confine yourself to a remote, suburban cul-de-sac.
The launch highlights the mounting pressure on Apple Inc. to give publishers a way to sell their magazines more than one digital issue at a time. Executives from the New Yorker and its publisher, Conde Nast, say the true value of apps like the New Yorker's can't be realized until readers are allowed to purchase subscriptions.
"It is important to the New Yorker that we have offerings that allow long-term relationships with the consumers," said Conde Nast President Bob Sauerberg. "Obviously, we don't have that in place for the moment with Apple. We are very keen to do that."
What we've made of it all is an 88-page souvenir of a moment in time when a non-life-threatening crisis hit the world, one for which nobody was to blame, and nobody knew how long it would last. People scrambled to find alternative routes home, any way, any how, or tried to make the best of wherever fate had placed them. It was a moment of unplanned disruption, never to be repeated in quite the same way. The perfect subject for a magazine, in fact.
Over 50 people contributed...it looks really nice.
National Geographic's front cover is a great example of how well simple branding can be tied to a product or message. In this case, the slightly warm yellow has become a symbol of wonderful photography, intriguing articles and serves as a doorway into places worlds away.
Bon Appetit's circulation was forecast to bloom as it absorbed former readers of Gourmet, and other magazines began eyeing Gourmet's list of more than 900,000 subscribers...The Gourmet readership and ad base seem to have largely vanished.
If you'd like to be a part of the core creative team who will put together this impromptu publication, let me know as well. The only criterion for any contributor is that, like me, you have to be stuck somewhere unintentionally. If all goes well, the results will be published, probably via MagCloud and/or the Newspaper Club, and any proceeds sent to a charity that helps mitigate the effects of climate change on human populations. After all, we have to repent somehow.
Publication name to consider: The Eyjafjallajokull End-Times.
What amazes me is that you don't feel like you're using a website, or even that you're using an e-reader on a new tablet device -- which, technically, is what it is. It feels like you're reading a magazine.
He tells how the job came about: "I was a well-known advertising agency guy, and the former editor of Esquire, Harold Hayes, he called me up. We met at The Four Seasons, and he said, 'Could you help me try to do better covers?' I got this Bronx accent, and he had this southern drawl, and it must have been a funny discussion. 'You have to go outside and find a designer, a guy who's talented at graphic design, but understands politics, culture, and movies,' I told him, and he said, 'Do me a favor, could you do me just one cover?' I said, 'Okay, I'll do you one.'"
Here's one I'd never seen before, featuring Chief John Big Tree, the supposed model for the Indian Head nickel.
Magazine publishers Bonnier and BERG, a London design consultancy, have collaborated on a digital magazine prototype called Mag+. The conceptual device is impressive in its restraint and its truth to form and function.
We find that the graphical page-turning metaphors that you see quite frequently in web-based e-magazine readers are not terribly believable, and they don't feel very honest to the form of the screen. [...] Scrolling systems are more appropriate to what we're dealing with.
Sing it, brother! Also of note is the way that the video takes the conventional "let me talk over some graphics" screencast and presents it in a much more compelling way.
The influential design magazine Emigre stopped publishing issues back in 2005, but now they're releasing issue No. 70, which is actually a hardcover book celebrating the best of Emigre from the past 25 years.
This book, designed and edited by Emigre co-founder and designer Rudy VanderLans, is a selection of reprints, using original digital files, tracing Emigre's development from its early bitmap design days in the late 1980s through to the experimental layouts that defined the so called "Legibility Wars" of the late 1990s, to the critical design writing of the early 2000s.
The September Issue is the much-anticipated documentary that follows Anna Wintour and her staff at Vogue through the process of creating the magazine's September issue, AKA the world's thickest magazine issue.
An apt demonstration that an editor/curator's main job is saying no to almost everything.
The cover is printed in a double layer of standard black ink, with an incrementally screened overlay masking the nine words. Exposed over time to ultraviolet light, the words will be appear at different rates, supposedly one per century.
But just as technology is increasing the speed of the media cycle, so too can it defeat the purpose of this experiment and allow us to read the story well before 1000 years. A UV source much stronger than the Sun should do the trick.
The Morning News polls their (presumably) wired, urban, and young readership: which print magazines and newspapers do you still read? Me: The New Yorker, The NY Times on the weekend, and the occasional copy of Wired from the newsstand. Bound paper is still a wonderful high resolution medium for transmitting information.
The Economist is leading the charge on expensive subscriptions, and its success is one reason publishers are rethinking their approaches. It is a news magazine with an extraordinarily high cover price -- raised to $6.99 late last year -- and subscription price, about $100 a year on average.
Even though The Economist is relatively expensive, its circulation has increased sharply in the last four years. Subscriptions are up 60 percent since 2004, and newsstand sales have risen 50 percent, according to the audit bureau.
I'm always amazed that something as great as The New Yorker can be had for a buck an issue when people routinely pay $4 for burnt coffee, $10 for crappy movies, and $12 for -tini drinks.
So, as Mr. Bevacqua wrote on his blog, he spent the next several days following the hidden clues he believed he'd found, using Morse code, alternative computer keyboard layouts and even electrician's wiring codes to solve the covert brainteasers. Finally he was directed to a hidden Web site, from which he sent an e-mail message to a secret account. A short while later he learned that he was the first Wired reader to solve an extensive hidden puzzle embedded throughout the magazine.
Come to think of it, it's amazing that nobody's made a major documentary about the advertising business before. Are some phenomena just so powerful and ubiquitous we stop thinking about them? Now acclaimed doc-maker Doug Pray goes inside the ever-revolutionary world of post-'60s advertising, profiling such legendary figures as [Dan] Wieden ("Just do it"), Hal Riney ("It's morning in America") and Cliff Freeman ("Where's the beef?") and inquiring where the boundaries lie between art, salesmanship and brainwashing.
Somewhat related to that is The September Issue, which follows the creation of Vogue magazine's September issue. You know, the one packed with hundreds of pages of advertising.
You-are-there documentarian R.J. Cutler ("The War Room," etc.) takes us inside the creation of Vogue's annual and enormous September issue, which possesses quasi-biblical status in the fashion world. Granted full access to editorial meetings, photo shoots and Fashion Week events by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Cutler spent nine months at Vogue, documenting a monumental process that more closely resembles a political campaign or a sports team's season than the publication of a single magazine.
Today, we're announcing an initiative to help bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from titles as diverse as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony.
At least I think it's a few magazines...it might be thousands but there's no way (that I can find) to view a list of magazines on offer.
The Mind-Blowingly Wonderful: It's every single page of every single issue of the New Yorker, from 1925 to the present, available online whenever you need it. No 9 DVDs needed. No plug-ins either, just a plain old web browser. And it's free with your subscription. Sweet fancy licorice!
The Good: Individual issues are bookmarkable. Forward and back arrows work to flip pages. If you're not a subscriber, you can sign up for four-issue trial or subscribe to just the digital version (~$40/year). At full zoom, the text is clear and easy to read. When an article doesn't appear for free on the New Yorker site, you're directed to the article in the Digital Reader. The DR is in beta and they're soliciting feedback.
The Bad and Not-So-Bad: The Digital Reader works on the iPhone...more or less. It's definitely not optimized for the phone and crashes often but works in a pinch. Some of the issues are missing...1962 and 1963 are largely AWOL. Issue archive always defaults to 2008, even while you're browsing an issue from 1937. Keyword search doesn't seem to work on older issues, i.e. most of the archive. There are a bunch of cool features that they could build on top of this thing: archive-wide search, compile/share lists of articles with other subscribers (i.e. make your own NYer mag from articles from back issues), keyword cross-referencing, etc.
The Ugly: Sadly, the actual reading interface is the worst part of the DR. The reader's interaction with the app relies too much on the mouse...more shortcut keys are needed (zoom, shortcut to TOC, move to top of next column, next/prev issue, etc.). Flipping through the digital magazine is easy enough but reading cannot comfortably be done at the page-flipping size. But when you zoom in, you need to zoom back out before you can flip to the next page. Guess how long it takes until that gets completely annoying? (A: After precisely one page turn.) I'd also like the magazine to fill as much of my screen as it can but instead the size of the viewing window is constrained. Bascially, make the thing as big as the screen will allow and give the reader one button to push to keep reading.
Even more maddening: after a short time, you have to re-login. I don't know if this is triggered by a period of inactivity or what, but it gets on all my nerves. (A "remember me" option that works across browser sessions would be welcome too.)
All-in-all, not enough attention was paid to the overall experience...it feels a bit like drinking fine wine from a sippy cup. That the Digital Reader exists is a great start but its shortcomings put too many roadblocks between the reader and her enjoyment of these great magazines, making the experience less wonderful than it could be. People *love* this magazine and the New Yorker should do everything it can to make people love reading it online.
Wired is keeping a blog that details the process of writing an upcoming story on, appropriately, writer/director Charlie Kaufman.
An almost-real-time, behind-the-scenes look at the assigning, writing, editing, and designing of a Wired feature. You can see more about the design process on Wired creative director Scott Dadich's SPD blog, The Process. This is a one-time experiment, tied solely to the Charlie Kaufman profile scheduled to run in our November 08 issue.
We will post internal e-mails, audio, video, drafts, memos, and layouts. We reserve the right to edit our posts, out of sympathy for the reader or to protect our relationships with our sources. We will not post emails with sources or reproduce communications that take place outside of Wired.
Reading through, I'm not sure I want to know how the sausage is made. With the well-established processes and tropes that magazines follow in publishing each and ever month, stuff like this has a tendency to come off as cynical and overly mechanical (e.g. the piece is already mostly written...they just need Kaufman to fill in the details). I also keep thinking...what if Kaufman reads this before his interviews take place? Is it better or worse for the finished piece that he knows their whole angle going in? (via snarkmarket)
Update: Clarification from Jason Tanz (the author of the Kaufman piece) at Wired...most of the interviews with Kaufman have already been conducted and a rough draft of the story has been completed. They wanted to be at least this far along before they posted any of these materials so as to avoid complications with the interview process. Tanz says that they hope to be "pretty close to real time [on the storyboard blog] by the end of next week".
Influenced by Modern design trends in Europe, Vanity Fair in 1929 got rid of all capital letters in their headlines. A few months later, the capital letters were reinstated and the design change was accompanied by a letter from the editor called "A Note on Typography", reprinted in full on Design Observer.
The eye and the mind can adapt themselves to new forms with surprising ease. An innovation stands out at first like a sore thumb but before it has passed its infancy it has become invisible to the conscious eye. The unconscious eye, however, is another matter. It is vaguely dulled by the stale and hackneyed, it is antagonized by the tasteless and inept, and it is completely stopped by the involved and illegible. The unconscious eye is a remorseless critic of all art forms, it awards the final fame and final oblivion.
Since its introduction in January of 1984, 2600 has been a unique source of information for readers with a strong sense of curiosity and an affinity for technology. The articles in 2600 have been consistently fascinating and frequently controversial. Over the past couple of decades the magazine has evolved from three sheets of loose-leaf paper stuffed into an envelope (readers "subscribed" by responding to a notice on a popular BBS frequented by hackers and sending in a SASE) to a professionally produced quarterly magazine. At the same time, the creators' anticipated audience of "a few dozen people tied together in a closely knit circle of conspiracy and mischief" grew to a global audience of tens of thousands of subscribers.
Princeton Architectural Press is offering a most unusual publication called Materials Monthly. Each month or so, a small box arrives on your doorstep containing not just a printed magazine about architecturally interesting materials but samples of the materials themselves, including fabric swatches, tiles, wallpaper, glass, and steel. Dan Hill recently received his issue and has a nice review and unboxing.
In past few years, several prominent US magazines and newspapers have begun to offer their extensive archives online and on DVD. In some cases, this includes material dating back to the 1850s. Collectively it is an incredible record of recent human history, the ideas, people, and events that have shaped our country and world as recorded by writers, photographers, editors, illustrators, advertisers, and designers who lived through those times. Here are some of most notable of those archives:
The NY Times provides their entire archive online, most of it for free. Most of the stories from 1923 to 1986 are available for a small fee. The Times briefly launched an interface for browsing their archive called TimesMachine but withdrew it soon after launch.
Scott King: How I'd Sink American Vogue. His approach would include stories like "How To Dress Angry", "635 Poor People Upside Down!", and "Karl Lagerfeld Discusses Various Cancers", as well as a 14-page advertisement-free issue.
This beta was a full-on 120 page prototype, with actual stories re-purposed from other places, actual art, actual ads (someone quipped that it was the ultimate editor's wet dream to be able to pick their own ads), and then all the sections and pacing that was to go into the actual magazine. The cover was lifted from McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage; it was the startling black and white image of a guy's head with a big ear where his eyes should have been. The whole thing got printed and laminated in a copy shop in Berkeley that had just got a new Kodak color copier and rip. Jane, Eugene, and I went in when the shop closed on Friday evening and worked round the clock through the weekend. Took 45 minutes to print out one color page! We emerged Monday morning with the prototype, which we had spiral-bound in a shop in South San Francisco, before we boarded a plane for Amsterdam to present it to Origin's founder and CEO Eckart Wintzen, to see if he would approve the concept, agree to advertise in the magazine, and then give us the advance we crucially needed to keep the project alive.
Beginning today, TheAtlantic.com is dropping its subscriber registration requirement and making the site free to all visitors.
Now, in addition to such offerings as blogs, author dispatches, slideshows, interviews, and videos, readers can also browse issues going back to 1995, along with hundreds of articles dating as far back as 1857, the year The Atlantic was founded.
The effect of ditching my Facebook account last week didn't register as much as it may have for some (sorry about that, my nine Facebook friends with whom I never otherwise communicate), but it's been interesting to see the currentbacklashmanifestitself. Deleting your Facebook is the new Facebook. (via hysterical paroxysm)
Interesting piece in Mother Jones about the new rate hikes for periodicals passed this year. According to the article, weekly publications like The Nation and The National Review will face up to $500,000 a year in additional delivery costs. This is the sort of small, seemingly-trivial change that makes this past week's discussions here at kottke.org so urgent: when you look at how rapidly—and sometimes silently—things are changing, you really do need to step back sometimes and ask, "Have we really thought this through? Are we acting, and doing so urgently enough?" How significant is this rate hike? Try this:
Since the 1970s, all classes of mail have been required to cover the costs associated with their delivery, what's called attributable cost. But periodicals, as a class, get favorable treatment: They don't pay overhead, meaning that they don't foot the bill for the Postal Service's infrastructure, employees, and so on.
That's a tradition that goes back to the origins of the nation. The founding fathers saw the press as the lifeblood of democracy—only informed voters could compose a true democracy, they believed—and thus created a postal system that gave favorable rates to small periodicals. (George Washington actually supported mailing newspapers for free.) For 200 years, small periodicals and journals of opinion were given special treatment.
A nice write-up in The Washington Post yesterday about Brijit, a start-up that hopes to make finding good magazine articles an easier task by creating a site that posts abstracts and ratings:
Brijit, Brosowsky said, aims to be "everyone's best-read friend."
Now on Brijit are summations of articles in current issues of GQ, Wired, Mother Jones, ESPN the Magazine, the Economist, Smithsonian and more than 50 other magazines. Even if you never read the entire article, just scanning Brijit could make you the smartest person at your next cocktail party.
Call me 'mildly interested.' It's not a bad idea. And I agree with David Foster Wallace's great opening essay in this year's Best American Essays, & also with Jason's reaction to it: namely, that we need editors a lot more than we think & now more than ever.
But, between the actual magazines and the individual styles, tastes, and voices of the blogs and group blogs that I already read to find what I've missed, where's room for Brijit? Maybe Brijit will reach critical mass and become a single-stop clearing-house for bloggers with more specialized tastes? One thing they'll have to do for certain is expand their currently-limited scope: if you look at their source list, a large number of the journals and magazines from which this year's crop of Best American Essays came are missing--including many that do post their content online & without a paywall.
Curious story of what's up with JPG Magazine, a photography mag founded by Heather Champ and Derek Powazek. Derek formed a new company (8020 Publishing) with a friend (Paul Cloutier) and that company bought JPG. Then, says Derek, "Paul informed me that we were inventing a new story about how JPG came to be that was all about 8020. He told me not to speak of that walk in Buena Vista, my wife, or anything that came before 8020." The founding and the first 6 issues of JPG were removed from the site and Derek left his company. More from Heather and on MetaFilter, including this nice sentiment: "The great thing about a labour of love is the love, not the labour."
I'm still recovering from the shock upon learning last week that Blogger & Podcaster magazine is in fact real. I thought it was a not-so-clever parody. I mean, look at that cover, it's just so over the top! (If I were to start a fictional magazine about blogging, I'd call it Post & Permalink in homage to Field & Stream).
I might be shooting myself in the foot by posting this, but the table of contents for the newest issue of the New Yorker is usually available on Sunday on newyorker.com, the day before the issue hits the newsstands and arrives in subscriber mailboxes. All you need to do is hack the URL of the TOC from the previous Monday. Here's the URL for the April 23 TOC:
The New Yorker redesign just went live. Not sure if I like it yet, but I don't not like it. Some quick notes after 15 minutes of kicking the tires, starting with the ugly and proceeding from there:
Only some of the old article URLs seem to work, which majorly sucks. This one from 2002 doesn't work and neither does this one from late 2005. This David Sedaris piece from 9/2006 does. kottke.org has links to the New Yorker going back to mid-2001...I'd be more than happy to supply them so some proper rewrite rules can be constructed. I'd say that more than 70% of the 200+ links from kottke.org to the New Yorker site are dead...to say nothing of all the links in Google, Yahoo, and 5 million other blogs. Not good.
The full text of at least one article (Stacy Schiff's article on Wikipedia) has been pulled from the site and has been replaced by an abstract of the article and the following notice:
The New Yorker's archives are not yet fully available online. The full text of all articles published before May, 2006, can be found in "The Complete New Yorker," which is available for purchase on DVD and hard drive.
Not sure if this is the only case or if the all longer articles from before a certain date have been pulled offline. This also is not good.
The first thing I looked for was the table of contents for the most recent issue because that's, by far, the page I most use on the site (it's the defacto "what's new" page). Took me about a minute to find the link...it's hidden in small text on the right-hand side of the site.
There are several RSS options, but there's no RSS autodiscovery going on. That's an easy fix. The main feed validates but with a few warnings. The bigger problem is that the feed only shows the last 10 items, which isn't even enough to cover an entire new issue's worth of stories and online-only extras.
Some odd spacing issues and other tiny bugs here and there. The default font size and line spacing make the articles a little hard to read...just a bit more line spacing would be great. And maybe default to the medium size font instead of the small. A little rough around the edges is all.
All articles include the stardard suite of article tools: change the font size, print, email to a friend, and links to Digg, del.icio.us, & Reddit. Each article is also accompanied by a list of keywords which function more or less like tags.
Overall, the look of the site is nice and clean with ample white space where you need it. The site seems well thought out, all in all. A definite improvement over the old site.
Nice positive review of Monocle, a new monthly magazine that would "bond and glue all the people that roam the world". I finally got my hands on the first issue the other day and it is quite something. "Overall, Monocle comes across as fresh, original, careful not to be influenced in its editorial choices by the media system's herd logic (no stories on the 'hot topic of the moment', and zero -- zero! -- celebrities and people gossip)."
How the New Yorker picks its cartoons. "The funniest cartoon is not necessarily the best cartoon. Funnier means that you laugh harder, and everybody's gonna laugh harder at more aggressive cartoons, more obscene cartoons. It's a Freudian thing. It gives more relief. But is it a better joke? To me, better means having more truth in it, having both the humor and the pain and therefore having more meaning and more poetry."
Update: I linked to this without reading it first, something I *never* do, but now that I've read it, there's really some great stuff in there about the writing process, magazines (specifically The New Yorker), and editing. And great quotes like "I'd rather work for Drunken Boat than for Time magazine, to be honest with you". Ouch for Time magazine.
As part of their "simplicity" ad campaign, Philips is paying Time Inc to put the table of contents in some of their magazines on page 1 (the TOC is typically further into the magazine in a more irritating position). It's funny that there was concern about this type of advertising affecting the layout of the magazine (in the editorial/sales wall sort of way) when the whole idea of pushing the TOC to page 10 or 20 is to accomodate advertising in the first place.
Since I've been skiing a little bit recently (for the first time in years), I decided to check out what was happening online in the skiing world. Specifically I wondered if there were any ski blogs out there and if the many ski magazines offer online archives of their content.
Most of the skiing blogs I found focus on their respective author's adventures on the slopes. If someone wanted to start a skiing meta-blog (blogging not just skiing adventures but other skiing-related topics and pointing to other people's adventures), would there be enough good information out there to point to? The magazine racks of ski country convenience stores are filled with all kinds of periodicals about skiing...how much of that content is online? From what I can tell, the skiing magazines do offer content on their sites, but not necessarily from the pages of their print magazines. Both SKI Magazine and Skiing Magazine have archived print articles on their sites, but only from June 2005 and earlier. Both have other resources like forums, skiing news, resort details, videos, and online-only features. Neither site is organized particularly well for quick information perusal and retrieval. Skipressworld offers PDF versions of their entire print magazine online, including the current issue. Powder magazine has some online archives as well as online-only features like videos and message boards.