The Evolution of the Magazine

As the possibility of an Apple tablet or other e-magazine platform looms, everyone is talking about the future of the magazine.

Stunning photos, careful design, and thoughtful prose: they aren’t going away. But with the subscription model left behind, advertising revenue dropped off, and the Internet providing unprecedented access to information, magazines are faltering.

Robin Sloan was kind enough to call Pictory, my recently launched project, the future of content. But I think what he really meant is that it’s the present. Sports Illustrated and BERG have put a lot of time and brainpower into creating really impressive examples of future possibilities, and rumor has it that Gannett spent a year with IDEO developing the experimental online magazine The Bold Italic.

Meanwhile, I’ve been in my sweatpants next to the cat food bowl for the last eight months working on Pictory. They did massive user research studies to discover that online users are missing high design, large photos, and editorial polish on the web, and that people respond to personal, human stories. I thought about what people would care about seeing in an online photo magazine, and we ended up with some of the same conclusions.

Pictory doesn’t have anywhere near the sophistication or ambition of those projects. By design, it’s simple enough that one person can manage it from her living room. But what it does have (which Robin also alluded to) is the potential to evolve quickly.

I learned to take photographs with a fully manual single lens reflex film camera. Learned slowly. Made lots of mistakes and found out the hard way: weeks or months later. I learned about publications by running a print magazine. Again, made lots of mistakes and found out the hard way: weeks or months later — if I found out anything at all. (Who blogs about a magazine issue? Almost no one.)

Digital photography allows both immediate gratification and immediate correction, and so does online editorial. I get realtime feedback on Pictory from Twitter and blogs, and longer term trending from my traffic analytics. The site has been live for two weeks and I have put out two showcases. Within hours of releasing Overseas and Overwhelmed, thousands of tweets informed me that people were intrigued by the idea of culture shock, but a few thought the words were the weak link in the package. On my next release, Twitter told me that people liked the words better in the new San Francisco showcase, but a few found the tone overzealous. (A love letter to the city! I’d never thought of it that way.)

I have a simple, working prototype out in the world, and I’m learning fast. I also have the help of an excited group of guest editors and designers, and conversations open with teachers at several innovative graduate programs — and, notably, none of the obstacles that come with corporate backers.

And that’s how a lady in her sweatpants hopes to build the missing link in the evolution of the magazine. Contact me if you want to play: laura at pictorymag.com.

The Evolution of the Magazine

As the possibility of an Apple tablet or other e-magazine platform looms, everyone is talking about the future of the magazine.

Stunning photos, careful design, and thoughtful prose: they aren’t going away. But with the subscription model left behind, advertising revenue dropped off, and the Internet providing unprecedented access to information, magazines are faltering.

Robin Sloan was kind enough to call Pictory, my recently launched project, the future of content. But I think what he really meant is that it’s the present. Sports Illustrated and BERG have put a lot of time and brainpower into creating really impressive examples of future possibilities, and rumor has it that Gannett spent a year with IDEO developing the experimental online magazine The Bold Italic.

Meanwhile, I’ve been in my sweatpants next to the cat food bowl for the last eight months working on Pictory. They did massive user research studies to discover that online users are missing high design, large photos, and editorial polish on the web, and that people respond to personal, human stories. I thought about what people would care about seeing in an online photo magazine, and we ended up with some of the same conclusions.

Pictory doesn’t have anywhere near the sophistication or ambition of those projects. By design, it’s simple enough that one person can manage it from her living room. But what it does have (which Robin also alluded to) is the potential to evolve quickly.

I learned to take photographs with a fully manual single lens reflex film camera. Learned slowly. Made lots of mistakes and found out the hard way: weeks or months later. I learned about publications by running a print magazine. Again, made lots of mistakes and found out the hard way: weeks or months later — if I found out anything at all. (Who blogs about a magazine issue? Almost no one.)

Digital photography allows both immediate gratification and immediate correction, and so does online editorial. I get realtime feedback on Pictory from Twitter and blogs, and longer term trending from my traffic analytics. The site has been live for two weeks and I have put out two showcases. Within hours of releasing Overseas and Overwhelmed, thousands of tweets informed me that people were intrigued by the idea of culture shock, but a few thought the words were the weak link in the package. On my next release, Twitter told me that people liked the words better in the new San Francisco showcase, but a few found the tone overzealous. (A love letter to the city! I’d never thought of it that way.)

I have a simple, working prototype out in the world, and I’m learning fast. I also have the help of an excited group of guest editors and designers, and conversations open with teachers at several innovative graduate programs — and, notably, none of the obstacles that come with corporate backers.

And that’s how a lady in her sweatpants hopes to build the missing link in the evolution of the magazine. Contact me if you want to play: laura at pictorymag.com.

Posted 4 years ago 15 notes

Notes:

  1. caterpillarcowboy reblogged this from spaceminer
  2. couch reblogged this from spaceminer and added:
    Laura Brunow Miner has some thoughts on magazine publishing: And yet, I love Laura’s approach so much more. True, The...
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Laura Brunow Miner, founder of Pictory and Phoot Camp, loves photography.

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