out of the past 06.17.2010, 8:26 PM
posted by dan visel
Feed magazine, edited by Steven Johnson and Stefanie Syman, started publishing online in 1995 as a "webzine". They've been gone for a long time: they stopped publishing after the first dot-com boom, in the summer of 2001. It's exciting to see that they've just put their online archives back up (at www.feedmag.com: a huge number of interesting critics got their start at Feed, and I expect I'll be spending a lot of time digging through pieces that I only half-remember.
One thing worth pointing out is from very early in their tenure – it's dated May 1, 1995. Editor Steven Johnson (of Everything Bad is Good for You etc.) convened Bob Stein, Sven Birkerts, Carolyn Guyer, and Michael Joyce to discuss reading electronically. The Gutenberg Elegies had recently been published, and Birkerts was the go-to critic for electronic media; Michael Joyce is still remembered for afternoon, a story; and Carolyn Guyer was another hypertext author, though I have to confess that I've never seen her work. It's an interesting conversation: in some ways, the same conversation that we're still having fifteen years later, though the discussion is almost never as wide-ranging as this one.
It's hard to tell – I certainly don't remember, though maybe Bob will – how different the current presentation is from the original. Navigation is a bit confusing: there are four main pages, but you need to click the button labeled "This way for the next object" to get to following pages. There's a very interesting sort of hypertext linking going on: links in the main text link to comments by other participants, who are sometimes, but not always, identified in the left margin. The design doesn't always work: but the pixelated graphics and complicated structure beckon us back to a time when the web was pure potential.
Posted by dan visel on June 17, 2010 8:26 PM
bowerbird on June 18, 2010 5:07 AM:
> in some ways, the same conversation
> that we're still having fifteen years later,
> though the discussion is almost
> never as wide-ranging as this one.
i can say with full and complete certainty that --
over the course of the last twenty-five years --
as e-books have become more and more _real,_
the thinking and conversation about/around them
has become more unimaginative and constrained.
to the point where i can't see any creativity at all!
even worse, the dialog now seems to be driven by
people who were cogs in the publishing machine
-- mired in the midst of the corporate structure --
who got a little whiff of the social networking scent
and now seem to think they can "save publishing"...
please. spare me. as if the middle-level dinosaurs
can save all the other dinosaurs from the mammals.
the general level of thinking that i see is _stupid_.
it's not just "not smart". it's absolutely _stupid_...
it used to be brilliant, and the thinkers in the past
had no real-life examples to work from, but they
still managed to reach for the stars and succeed...
today's observers can't see the end of their nose.
but their twitter friends are so busy patting them
on the back that they all think they're _amazing_.
to anyone who cares about intellectual integrity,
it's embarrassing. it just makes me wanna puke.
allow me to give you just one concrete example, ok?
people are just starting to talk about "annotations"
in e-books, with crude and unsophisticated ideas.
but look at the early e-books bob supervised and
you'll see they had plenty of forms of annotation;
you could dog-ear pages, and highlight text, and
draw lines in the margin to mark a passage, and
attach virtual paper-clips to a segment, and even
enter notes... and by the time he got up to tk3,
it had pop-up pictures with eye-candy effects,
and an "annotation" could be a whole other book.
that's just one example. i could go on and on.
the world is so much more sophisticated about
computers, and has so much real _experience,_
but yet our thinking about e-books is stagnant.
sorry to vent. but it's sad. it's just really sad...
Gary Frost on June 20, 2010 6:25 PM:
Realized or not, the ebook mimic of the paper book was not a strategic future agenda. It has proven so indigestible that a recent enclave of Research Library strategists has decided which 25 libraries (US) will continue to assemble and preserve print collections permitting all others to adventure across the digital library divide without regard for print.
So what was the future of the book after all? Not too surprisingly we are drifting toward an inclusive reading scenario and an inherent logic of the interdependence of distinctive print and screen formats. This is the messy agenda of projecting both formats forward. It is also the messy agenda of realizing that each of the print and screen formats of books have shifted their separate roles as enclaves of culture transmission.
This came out in the recent RIT conference on the future of reading. Just one example was the presentation by Chris Meadows, Editor of Wired. He described his methodic and risky decision to deliver Wired for the iPad. He made three bets; that the iPad will be a mass platform, that people will continue to read whole magazines and that the tablet experience will reset the economics. The tricky aspect was migration of the print experience and esthetic to the screen. He knew the qualities of the print magazine that must go forward; its curated wholeness, its event-like experience and its periodicity and he knew that the Web was never going to advance attentive magazine reading. But he was amazed to see that most print editorial tools of spread, adjacency, well, jump, pull-quotes and back cover were not going to migrate to the reading device. For example, the pages must be deployed as singles, not spreads. “There are very few moments when nobody knows anything.”
Here certainly is a moment where a separate destiny of print and screen is apparent. And Chris also mentioned that he can afford the adventure to the iPad because print Wired has had its best year ever.