Ten years ago, I hung up my web design career to figure out how to publish a magazine. A failed Kickstarter campaign and 24 issues later, and here we are today. Over the decade I paused Offscreen multiple times – for personal reasons, for a major rebrand or, most recently, a pandemic. These breaks offer me opportunities to experiment with side projects and recharge my creative batteries. The truth is, though, that I find it harder and harder to come back to and stay motivated about Offscreen.
The ‘tech world’ is the world I grew up in. It’s where I made lasting friendships and a rewarding career. It’s given me so much since I first ‘logged on’ in the late ’90s. But today it’s a world I struggle to relate to. I stopped getting excited about new startups, apps or gadgets. Even genuinely interesting projects leave me feeling blasé as they often come wrapped in a language and a business model I find off-putting.
If you’ve been reading Offscreen since its early days, you would have noticed a change in attitude. As I recently wrote in the introduction of my newsletter: “The naïve optimism for tech – the notion of ‘technology equals progress’ – has been replaced by a deep-felt scepticism about fixing social problems with technological solutions.” Seeing tech-billionaire space cowboys having a blast while the world burns and inequality explodes makes it difficult for me to not let that sense of scepticism turn into full-blown anti-tech cynicism. It’s certainly not the kind of energy that leads to hopeful tech stories.
That said, the magazine’s contrarian viewpoints – as told through the many voices speaking up against the Silicon Valley narrative – at the very least offer a way to make sense of it all. Still, it increasingly feels futile. I often ask myself: what’s the point of putting so much effort into a publication that preaches to the converted?
That’s not to say that I don’t value the amazing community that has grown around Offscreen. Hardly a week goes by without a heartfelt, constructive note from a reader arriving in my inbox. Offscreen managed to bring together some of the most considerate, smart, kind and generous people in the tech world – as contributors, interviewees, sponsors and, of course, readers. An utterly humbling experience and a rare source of hope for which I’ll be forever grateful. What it lacks in size, it makes up in enthusiasm and goodwill – the Offscreen community is strong enough to support another 24 issues. I know that. I just don’t know if I have it in me to make it happen.
Is this a farewell post? Honestly, I don’t know. As you can tell, my head isn’t in a space for more tech-focused magazine-making right now. It hasn’t been for a while. Though, it doesn’t really feel like the end of Offscreen yet. For now I will – once again – put Offscreen in a holding pattern.
When I think about Offscreen’s future, I feel a strong sense of responsibility. There is no future scenario in which I would consider selling ‘the brand’ to some media company. I wonder whether there is a like-minded editor out there interested in taking over my role as editor, while I stay on board to help with all the other tasks involved in keeping Offscreen afloat. If this is you or someone you know (most likely an Offscreen reader?), please get in touch.
There’s still a good chance that in a few months I’m back, hungry for more Offscreen. Right now, I’m in the lucky position to just about cover my living expenses by publishing Dense Discovery which has been a surprising source of motivation and, frankly, a welcome outlet for some of my world-weariness of late.
For now, dear readers, sponsors and supporters: thank you! I’ll be keeping subscribers abreast of any updates via email, as usual. (For those who have recently subscribed and thereby pre-purchased the next issue: rest assured that your purchase will be refunded if indeed Offscreen issue 25 does not see the light of day.)
With much love and appreciation,