the future of magazines…

Warning… I think this blog may deserve a soapbox.

Recently Sports Illustrated released a video about the future of magazines. It involved what one can only imagine is the not yet released “Apple Tablet.” Yesterday, a new video was released by Bonnier Research & Design with design partners BERG. Bonnier is the publisher of Popular Science. At first I just thought everyone was jumping on-board and in the next few weeks we’d be inundated with video’s of the future of everything from The Onion to Mother Jones. Then I watched the video:
Vimeo won’t let me post it but here is a link, followed by arbitrary images:


Matt Webb, of BERG, talks a little about magazines, then they explore functionality and moving print to web.

… Hopefully you watched the video; the SI one as well.

What makes this video interesting to me is that it begins to pose the question, where will design be situated in digital magazines (or at least that’s where my mind went with it.) Sure, we’re all imagining the Apple Tablet will move mountains. But the reality of things is that we don’t know what will be possible. Functionality is a HUGE issue. This isn’t just programming magazines, at least it shouldn’t be, it is reinventing the way that magazines communicate. The digital reader and the reader are different entities… Publishing is about to get a huge facelift, and if programming is valued above design we (designers) are looking at an industry where design is relegated to nothing but production.

… At least that was my take on it.  Not sure what happened, but all my optimism of last week’s SI video was replaced by an overwhelming 1984-esque fear, when I really started to think about the possible impacts this can have on design.

Fun reader fact: I take the future of print very seriously; The closest I ever been to having a ligament bar fight was actually over this topic… I think the day that Sassy magazine closed it’s doors?
Yeah, kind of embarrassing.

I was discussing this (digital readers, not bar fights) with Josh and it seems the video sent him in a completely opposite direction; He’s all sunshine and bunnies on the matter, hoping that publishing may become the one industry where design and programing start to really come together, creating a more transparent interaction—something people want to use, not just have to use.
… This is why I don’t usually paraphrase people, they say something really interesting and eloquent and I turn around and say some jumbled thing like whatever that just was.

I’m still torn, but if I let myself be glass half full, this could be a huge moment in the history of design. Not to say we could have a Ray Gun situation on our hands, but it really could be a complete revisiting of communication in modern times, and that’s exciting.

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