There are two kinds of people in this world. People who love magazines and assholes.
Just kidding! (It will take me a few weeks to get the hang of this public outreach thing.) And really, I’m just kidding…. no, really. I know. You love magazines but don’t think they work online. And besides, I live only to please everybody. And while many are pleased by the flash digital magazine format, others find the delivery too awkward to bother with and they move on.
To be honest, I first tried the flash digital magazine format out when I was in a hurried and impatient mood… and it confounded and irritated me. Later the same night, I returned to it in a relaxed mood and it took me about 90 seconds to figure out how to use it effectively and to realize that it’s very very very quite readable.
So for starters, here’s a little guide: How to use the flash digital magazine.
1: Take a deep breath and relax.
2: Skate past the advertisers, making a mental note to buy their products. (Remember what the doormouse said? Freeze your head!) Look at how pretty the design is. Oooh aaah. Damnit, you can’t read it ’cause the letters are too small.
3: This can be easily resolved. Click anywhere on the screen and the size of the text increases. Ohmygod it’s blurry. Breathe. Wait on average about 3 seconds and it will not be blurry anymore. You can use those three seconds to twitter somebody about how you’re wasting your entire life waiting for the text on h+ magazine to resolve into something readable. Btw, click on the screen only once. The text size will increase to just right for reading. You do have 2 other options regarding the size of the text. Too Big and Way Too Big – otherwise labeled larger and largest… just click on the small “a” symbols on the right side of your screen, if you have vision problems.
4: But now, I can’t see the whole article on the page and I can’t figure out how to move it up and down. Breathe. Look at your keyboards. See the keys with up and down arrows on them? The down key takes you down the page. The other one goes the opposite way.
That’s it. It’s about 100 times easier than figuring out your cell phone and it’s a pretty cool way to read the magazine once you take a minute or two to get the hang of it.
I’ll say a little about the much asked question: “Why a magazine?” in just a bit. But before I go there, let me say that it has not been our intention to frustrate potential readers (or to call them names… I was just kidding, really!)
We now offer h+ in 3 (going on 4) delicious flavors…. Something we’ve been planning for awhile.
1: We have the flash digital magazine, in a preset format provided by InfoSwell, as I described above.
2: We have old-school pdf for people who can’t or won’t deal with the previous format but who feel comfortable with a good old-fashioned pdf. We’ve had that available all along, but now we’ve made it obvious and accessible.
3: And now, we are offering most of the articles (and eventually all of them) in the now conventional Basic Web Post. Fast, easy, bite-sized, miscellaneous and uncomplicated.
4: Lastly, we’re going to take this puppy off to the printers in a limited edition for those who – like me – still love print. Print copies should be available in a couple of months. Those who want print editions can order them directly from us, or look for them on sale wherever magazines are sold (although, like I say, the print run is limited so it won’t necessarily be easy to find).
And so it has been asked: why a magazine?
Well… as confirmed by at least some of the responses we’ve received, there is something about seeing content in a magazine format — particularly a magazine that tries to reach towards a popular audience – that affirms that a new paradigm or sensibility has come of age, that it has reached a sort of critical mass where it warrants a magazine’s existence.
There is also something about the magazine format that focuses the mind, again, just for some of us. There are, obviously, umpty-millions of websites loaded with content, and the nature and volume of that content is only constrained by the abilities and time available to those presenting it and the attention spans of those receiving. In contrast, the magazine is a presentation of content within constraints. It telegraphs to the reader that choices have been made. It’s less casual, particularly since it will take the form of a virtual artifact that, in theory, will remain the same through time.
While working in a constrained format forces me to make choices, it doesn’t automatically insure that I’ll be able to delivery a superior product — although that’s certainly one of my goals. Obviously, the constraints of a magazine pose its own set of problems and challenges. On the other hand, I’ve gotten a number of enthusiastic responses from people who have read the magazine from cover to cover. How many people do you think read an “issue” of Salon from “cover to cover”? And that’s another thing I love about the magazine format. It allows you to organize text and images in a way to make a total statement. You can’t bunch together a series of pieces into a thematic flow in a webzine in any meaningful way, unless you stuff them all into one post and that would seem… well, goofy.
Sure, all this magazine lust may some day go the way of the Dodo and the 40 minute, 2-sided record album… which is a shame. It’s like this: a few have commented that it’s weird that a futurist magazine should choose an archaic format. I rather think of Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, in which advances in nanotechnology liberate people to choose to live in a sort-of less oppressive version of the Victorian era. While I have no love for Victorianism, this is the kind of future that attracts me – a future where new technology expands our options, including our options to work and play within forms and worlds that may have been long since rendered archaic (or disintermediated). A future (and a present) where we drive the technoculture more and the technoculture drives us less. And if we choose to present novel ideas in a format that’s less then uber-contemporary, well… you have the flexibility to dig it, because actually, that’s sort of novel.