The future of traditional print publishing is, well, no future at all. The model has long since morphed, leaving books, magazines, and newspapers to languish, but not quite yet die. It's with morbid fascination that pundits, journalists, and bloggers are actually taking sides in the debate about the future of publishing. Tim Maly of Quite Babylon neatly dissects Douglas Rushkoff's take on a Google/Murdoch industry. David Carr over at the New York Times is optimistic. "The future, which is not a bad deal if you ignore all the collateral gore. Young men and women are still coming here to remake the world, they just won’t be stopping by the human resources department of Condé Nast to begin their ascent. For every kid that I bump into who is wandering the media industry looking for an entrance that closed some time ago, I come across another who is a bundle of ideas, energy and technological mastery," he writes about young media types coming to New York City.
I'm in the midst of exploring hybrid models: Foray's into publishing that capitalize on collaboration, search, and content distribution, but still holds onto some kind of hard copy collateral. More to come in this arena.
I have two pieces out this month that in format come down on opposite sides of the print and digital divide. The first is in Places Journal, which, until recently was a print edition, but now is folded under the Design Observer mantle. My review, Our Design Decade, takes a look at Design USA: Contemporary Innovation currently on view at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. In it I draw attention to the use of iPods in the gallery. (The show was designed by 2x4.)
Museum visitors are encouraged to interact via comments, which show up in real time on screens in the gallery, on the Cooper-Hewitt website, and on Twitter. Participation is a tricky thing. Design USA forecasts an interactive future where everyone is in on innovation; but it doesn’t go so far as to anoint everyone a designer. In the gallery, Apple monitors post the visitors’ bon mots: user Designbumpkin comments on landscape architect Ned Kahn’s Wind Silos at the International Trade Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, saying “Beautiful to see kinetic building facades,” while another user texts “Cool.” Clearly our present era is characterized by cross-talk as a kind of engagement — but does a comment constitute marginalia? Or discourse? Or a shout in the dark? With user-generated content taking hold in the museum, maybe these broadcasts are just the forecasts the curators are looking for. Is everyone an oracle? Give it ten years.
The second article that poses a question about online or offline is pictured above. It's Dwell's cover story for it's Future Issue, the Y-House by Los Angeles architects Eric Kahn and Russell Thomsen formerly of COA and now IDEA Office. The house represents the future of density in suburban Tokyo, but sadly, the article is only in the print edition. Why? My guess is this is the magazine's way of controlling content and ensuring print sales, but is it the Future?