Oh please let zines be the future of media!

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/23/homespunk-2018.html


40+ posts were split to a new topic: Moving new media rural

  • Even the ads are well-crafted, and trusted.

This would be an interesting challenge to implement on the Web: an ad network that starts from the point of trust in the specific outlet’s judgement about affinities, content and quality and then works outward to other indie sites. Since the 1990s ad networks have all been about centralised data collection, culminating in Facebook’s horrible and dangerous algorithms.


Maybe if the open web really is threatened by the monopoly ISPs, physical zines might make a comeback. Maybe someone will start publishing Factsheet Five again. The FCC doesn’t control the USPS. The commercial web is structured in a way that is the antithesis of what zine culture was. Recall that the price of many zines was ‘trade or stamps.’ Some came with toy surprises. Zines didn’t care about analytics or ad networks or getting you to buy cheap crap on Amazon; most zine publishers would have spit on such notions.


Indie physical media is going to be very interesting in the post-net neutrality era. Also, you can’t have your privacy data compromised by the mere act of opening a physical publication :wink:


I’d argue that zines DID have an analytics metric though-you could measure the success or failure of your publication by whether anybody actually took it or not :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: On a more serious note, the notion of that zines are not governed at all by ISPs or federal agencies is a compelling argument for more people to revisit the culture as a whole.

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I don’t understand what Tim Carmody means by saying that what we need is an “indie web”: I get the desire for there to be more zine-like websites and other digital media. Luckily, those things already exist. I don’t get why we, as a planet, need a replacement for the web that is strictly for zine-like websites. Is this “indie web” a serious proposal, or just a dream of a web free of giant commercial interests?

Despite what Carmody seems to believe, Virdee’s zine doesn’t really make the case that zines will be the future of (digital) media. It just argues for why zines are cool things–which they are. The most it does is say “hey, here’s an NYT vid that is kind of zine-like.” But no actual argument is presented. The last page says “News media will adopt [zine] qualities. It will be a strategic advantage.” Virdee provides no evidence for those claims; they’re just stated matter-of-factly. Just because zines are cool, it doesn’t necessarily follow that news media will adopt the qualities of zines.

No reason is given for why the cool qualities of zines are a strategic advantage for digital news media. And consider this: if those qualities are exploited for the strategic purposes of news media, do those qualities retain their coolness? If zine-like-qualities become the fashion among news media, will those qualities still hold their appeal? If they lose their coolness, are they still strategically advantageous?

The headline for the Nieman Lab post of Virdee’s zine-about-zines is “Zines had it right all along.” I don’t understand a few things about that:

  1. What is “it”–what have zines been right about all along?
  2. Were zines once thought to have had “it” wrong?
  3. Who thought that zines had “it” wrong?
  4. What has happened that now allows us to finally know for sure that “zines had it right all along”?
  5. Is what zines had right all along the same thing that other media want to get right?

I feel that a journalism lab like Nieman should strive for better. This “Zines had it right all along” headline just seems so clickbaity.

Finally, a little pedantry: Virdee’s zine is titled “Digital Will Reflect More Qualities That Make Print Great”–except the zine in question isn’t print: it’s manuscript. Zines are distinct not because of the qualities that make print great, but because of the qualities that make handmade things great. The original appeal of print was mechanization; the appeal of handmade things–things like zines–is the opposite. Such a title makes me question the author’s expertise.


Then they went online… Should I be disappointed in BoingBoing?
Then again I wouldn’t have known all you crazy mutants lurking in BBS.


I bet now it’s a lot harder to surreptitiously photocopy your zine during your late shift at Kinko’s.


Me, neither. Maybe some sort of framework for better discoverability. The zine-like sites exist out there, but they get lost under the weight of the major players and the “13 Ways We Ruined The World - # 9 Will Blow Your Mind!” sites.

When I think of “zines”, though, I think of the 90s.

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And us the “it” that zines got right the same “it” they always used to tell us was better in the Bahamas?

“Paper has more presence than electronic media:” (Tim Gaze)

Aesthetically. Yeah, the ecology blah blah but there are tons of paper n fabric to reuse for zines. In the same way growers/makers have (re)found wider or at least more (still relatively small but beloved) niches, zines may also. I hope.

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Shameless plug: for those that want to re/visit the culture as you mentioned and one finds oneself in Denver, CO, stop in the Denver Zine Library. It’s maintained by a friendly group of dedicated volunteers and the collection is broad!


Let me show off my zine collection, and take pics of your own !


That’s great ! It’s important to have places collecting zines.

The Fanzinothèque is a place just like that in France, founded in 89, they have an incredible collection of 50000 documents !



Voynich was a zine!


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