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It’s almost time for outdoor baseball once again in Minnesota! Go Twins! (I love the cameo by former Vikings coach Bud Grant)

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It’s almost time for outdoor baseball once again in Minnesota! Go Twins! (I love the cameo by former Vikings coach Bud Grant)

Posted by Joel on March 27 2010 • Personal

VIV Mag on the iPad

Who says a digital magazine has to look like a printed magazine at all? Even before the much anticipated Apple iPad even hits consumers hands media companies have been hard a work adapting their magazines, newspapers and books for digital distribution. But why does the digital version need to look like a printed page at all. Here is another demo of a magazine put to iPad (courtesy Apple Insider). I think it looks absolutely amazing, but as one reviewer recently asked: Will these production values be maintained from month to month, or week to week, with each “issue.” I actually believe they will. It’s exciting. (Go here for a film on how they made the demo as well.)

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread - iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

Posted by Joel on March 27 2010 • Multimedia

Text without Context

I just finished reading Jaron Lanier’s wonderful new book titled “You Are Not a Gadget.” In it, one of the topics he discusses is the increasing “mash-up” nature of the new digital age. In particular, he speaks of a not-too-distant future when words could lose their contextual nature in long form. Rather, snippets of written works will become the normal way that readers will encounter new ideas, instead of the fully formed work of a single author.

This recent article speaks of the same phenomenon (and of Lanier’s book). It’s called Text Without Context, and New York Times reporter Michiko Kakutani reviews a novel from writer ?? who covers the same subject. “Mr. Shields’s pasted-together book and defense of appropriation underscore the contentious issues of copyright, intellectual property and plagiarism that have become prominent in a world in which the Internet makes copying and recycling as simple as pressing a couple of buttons. In fact, the dynamics of the Web, as the artist and computer scientist Jaron Lanier observes in another new book, are encouraging “authors, journalists, musicians and artists” to “treat the fruits of their intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind.”

More from the review: “It’s not just a question of how these “content producers” are supposed to make a living or finance their endeavors, however, or why they ought to allow other people to pick apart their work and filch choice excerpts. Nor is it simply a question of experts and professionals being challenged by an increasingly democratized marketplace. It’s also a question, as Mr. Lanier, 49, astutely points out in his new book, “You Are Not a Gadget,” of how online collectivism, social networking and popular software designs are changing the way people think and process information, a question of what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes “metaness” and regards the mash-up as “more important than the sources who were mashed.”

I agree with Lanier’s call for a review of how technology is shaping our lives. Like Lanier’s book, Kakutani’s essay in the Times does a good job of outlining some of the issues and what’s at stake. It’s more than simply planting one’s feet in the ground in resistance to change. Fundamental questions must be asked (and answered) ass society comes to adopt new information technoolgy and practices. I encourage you to read the entire essay.

Posted by Joel on March 27 2010 • Multimedia

A Perception Problem

Earlier this month, a group of publishers banded together to launch a new campaign titled Magazines: The Power of Print. Expected to roll out in May issues of various magazines, the advertising campaign is designed to remind readers and advertisers that print is alive and well. Participating publishers include Hearst, Time Inc., Condé Nast, Meredith Corp. and Wenner Media. From the Folio post from author Jason Fell:

Hearst Corp. executive vice president and publishing director Michael Clinton: “It is a misperception that print is a shrinking medium. It is a growing medium—audiences are growing, subscriptions are growing, etc. The magazine business, collectively, has said that we have this incredibly dynamic medium that consumers love and spend money on, and we need to tell that story in a bigger way. The magazine world doesn’t have a consumer problem, it has an advertising perception problem, among some advertisers.”

According to Fell’s post, the Publishers Information Bureau reports that advertising pages were down 25.6 percent in 2009, “marking the 10th reported quarterly decline out of 11 since PIB began reporting on a quarterly basis in mid-2007. Shockingly, a mere 18 titles posted ad page gains in 2009.”

Posted by Joel on March 27 2010 • Journalism

Publishing: The Revolutionary Future

From the most recent New York Review of Books comes this wonderful essay on the Future of Publishing:

“Though Gutenberg’s invention made possible our modern world with all its wonders and woes, no one, much less Gutenberg himself, could have foreseen that his press would have this effect. And no one today can foresee except in broad and sketchy outline the far greater impact that digitization will have on our own future. With the earth trembling beneath them, it is no wonder that publishers with one foot in the crumbling past and the other seeking solid ground in an uncertain future hesitate to seize the opportunity that digitization offers them to restore, expand, and promote their backlists to a decentralized, worldwide marketplace…

“The resistance today by publishers to the onrushing digital future does not arise from fear of disruptive literacy, but from the understandable fear of their own obsolescence and the complexity of the digital transformation that awaits them, one in which much of their traditional infrastructure and perhaps they too will be redundant ...

“Digitization makes possible a world in which anyone can claim to be a publisher and anyone can call him- or herself an author. In this world the traditional filters will have melted into air and only the ultimate filter—the human inability to read what is unreadable—will remain to winnow what is worth keeping in a virtual marketplace where Keats’s nightingale shares electronic space with Aunt Mary’s haikus. That the contents of the world’s libraries will eventually be accessed practically anywhere at the click of a mouse is not an unmixed blessing. Another click might obliterate these same contents and bring civilization to an end: an overwhelming argument, if one is needed, for physical books in the digital age.”

Posted by Joel on March 06 2010 • Books