Great launch party last night for M/I/S/C, second launch party in San Francisco in a few weeks... and then Shanghai. 200+ cool people showed up. Food is good... and the cupcakes too. Special thanks to the folks who pulled this off in such a short time... Ashley, Lucy, Marla, Sherry, Jessica, Christian, Brooke and a few others... great job!
I was once a "magazine junkie"; now after rehabilitation I am a very selective reader or not having the luxury for not being one. I cut my magazine subscriptions from 105 periodicals a few years back to 10. I have to cut one if I want to add a new one (I learned this from someone...). So it will always be 10.
Last year we’ve seen the changing hands and closing of some of the most prestigious and long established business magazines including Business Week and Newsweek and some new ones such as Portfolio which I find the positioning odd. So people ask me if I am crazy or foolish publishing another new magazine.
I am kind of both I guess. I think there is a future in magazines, but it won’t be like the old one. I love Business Week, but it is not a sustainable business model. It is an educated-consumer read: venerable, timely, credible, respected, well packaged and produced. Which is another way to say, in new media: slow, old, closed and expensive to produce. And it is still based on an old publishing model.
Newsstand sales for the almost 500 consumer magazines in the US measured by the Audit Bureau of Circulations have been on a steady decline the last three years between 8-12% for consumer magazines. Many publishers didn’t make it through the rapid decline in advertising dollars and are struggling integrating with the Internet thing. And the iPad thing turned the publishing upside down and changing the game quietly.
I have been having problems with mainstream publishing anyway so I don’t see this as an entirely bad thing. The whole thing about “culture of mass media” or “popular culture” is moving our society backward or at least stopping us from moving forward. Let's take the "mass" or "popular" out of "mass media" or "popular media". Just look at what magazines they are selling at Walmart and you'll understand what I am talking about.
To some extent it is the same case for TV. JTV and JP (Junk TV and Junk Publishing) are hurting us and thanks to the Internet, many of us can do without TV and same for these poorly produced magazines. Many are not worth the trees they killed.
What is M/I/S/C magazine? I came up with the idea one night flying red eye. I said to myself I am trying to pick up what Bruce Nussbaum left behind at Business Week. I really liked that supplement when he was the editor-in-chief of that section.
Inspired by Nussbaum's vision, M/I/S/C will be a new global media brand designed to take over what he left unfinished at Business Week. The mission is to make design thinking and innovation practices accessible to a broader readership; the magazine will be positioned on newsstands alongside the other cutting-edge cool titles such as Monocle and Fast Company. I can't name another cool magazine, there are a bunch of good design and architecture magazines and not many that get me excited. Bring me back Industry Standard, not sure if anyone remembers that short-lived one.
M/I/S/C is basically organized around four key concepts: Movement / Intuition / Structure / Complexity. M/I/S/C blurs the boundaries between business, innovation, design, technology, art and culture. I want to show the world we can produce a world-class product in 30 days with limited resources. M/I/S/C will always be in Beta. I'll never promise you a finished product, there wont' be one.
Theodor Adorno said it right, "Standardization, moreover, means the strengthening of the lasting domination of the listening public and of their conditioned reflexes. They are expected to want that to which they have become accustomed and to become enraged whenever their expectations are disappointed and fulfillment, which they regard as the customer's inalienable right, is denied, and even if there were attempts to introduce anything really different into light music, they would be deceived from the start by virtue of economic concentration."
Actually Adorno's critique was not directed against popular culture per se, but the specific kind of mass culture produced under monopoly capitalism which our system is designed to encourage in order to get market power. Consolidation of industry that drives efficiency also takes out the heart and soul of the culture business. Take a look around us and see how popular culture media = junk.
Popular culture possesses a threat to innovation by destroying niche and novelties and the sensibility of micro-cultures, which are essential to innovation. Much of today’s mass culture was not ‘mass’, this mass culture was imposed by marketers and media owners rather than derived from the people. Is there something called "mass culture" or it is just the advertisers that like us to believe that.
I need to get back to my day job and this weekend I will start looking for content for the next issue. Now onto the next one – the Future issue. The future is exciting.