Detroit is arguably one of the most fascinating modern cities in the world. This is thanks to the city’s unique balance between its former identity as a manufacturing mecca and its current state of sectional abandonment and iterative renewal. It is neither deserted nor wholly occupied, but exists in tension between destruction, creation and everyday living, with beautiful stories on all of these fronts. French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre saw the abandoned parts of this compelling urban landscape as no less fascinating than the ruins of ancient civilizations and set out to document it in their 2010 book The Ruins of Detroit.
As jarring as Brooklynites sporting period-perfect ’60s vintage clothing and iPhone earbuds, promising young tech startup founders seem oddly drawn to crumbling old media. The latest whippersnappers pulled in this direction are YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. The pair recently announced their next startup will be centered on … magazines?
Yes, indeed: Hurley, 34, and Chen, 33, may have ported old-fashioned television onto the web with YouTube, but their new venture Zeen reportedly seeks to reverse that process, taking web content in the direction of ink-on-paper glossies, according to comments summarized by The Next Web. Zeen’s tagline: ”Discover and create beautiful magazines.”
Granted, the magazines will be digital, but from what Hurley and Chen revealed, the format owes far more to Life than to Tumblr. While Google bet on blogs as the dominant online writing format, and Twitter is betting on microblogs, Zeen is a wager on publishing’s past.
“The discovery of the alphabet will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves…You give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be heroes of many things, and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing.”
—via The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan/Quentin Fiore
With the internet (and particularly, the search engine) I need to intentionally refrain from appearing omniscient but generally knowing nothing. Now-a-days that’s a practice anyone with internet access can exercise proficiently. I’m terrified to do the same but must confess I am doing exactly that. Hold tight to specialization and independent thought.
As I often comment that I can hardly trust my memory at work anymore and rely on notes I’ve taken (or references that other people have developed), this causes makes me pause and consider whether I’m loosing some ability to think, to remember. Could the trajectory land me in some reflective state where I no longer think for myself (a practice I hold dear) and instead only process instruction? How can I integrate memorization in my daily life? Lean less on written word and stored memory and cultivate a deeper understanding of my environment?
I understand how technology allowed us to replace Encyclopedia Britannica with Wikipedia and that the last time I used an EB product was nearly 10 years ago when I bought their CDROM version in college. Still, it makes me sad to think that my kids will never see new printed versions of this collection.
(infographic from statista.com)