Indie Publishing
Field Notes

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Issue 18 is here

Posted on Dec 14 2017 in News

It’s 🚀🎉 launch day 🚀🎉 here at Offscreen: please welcome Issue 18! Shipping will start later today and continue through to Monday, so make sure you order now to be part of the very first batch leaving our warehouse in Berlin.

As a subscriber you will automatically receive every new issue, but it’s worth checking your account occasionally anyway to make sure that your shipping details are up-to-date. The access link to your account can be found in the confirmation email you received from us after your initial order. Can’t find the email? Request a new link on my.offscreenmag.com.

Issue 18 is loosely themed around ethics in technology and includes insightful interviews with...

  • Craig Mod – A curious writer, designer, developer, and photographer straddling the line between innovation and tradition, digital and analogue.
  • Jessica Jackley – The co-founder of the popular microfinance platform Kiva talks about non-profit success and how she managed to reinvent herself after leaving the organisation several years ago.
  • Aral Balkan – He describes himself as a Cyborg Rights Activist and believes Silicon Valley’s success is built on billion dollar lies.
  • Erika Hall – The design researcher and co-founder of Mule Design wants designers to pay more attention to the ethical implications of their work.

See all the details here.

This issue would not have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors: Adobe Typekit, Balsamiq, Harvest, Hover, MailChimp, SiteGround, Swarm, and Ueno. And of course, a big 'thank you' to all Patrons of this issue.

Don't forget to share your feedback and photos via Twitter and Instagram once you’ve received your copy in the mail. Any questions, just contact us. Enjoy and have a great holiday! 🎅

Help us get copies of Offscreen into the hands of students

Posted on Oct 25 2017 in News

UPDATE: This year's EDU Drive has come to an end and we'd like to express our sincere gratitude to our generous sponsors.

My call for education providers two weeks ago resulted in around 40 applications. After filtering out ineligible or too difficult to reach applicants*, you can now find our final selection of 31 organisations below. In total, they will receive 400 copies.

I now need to find a way to cover the shipping cost of around $5 per copy. To achieve this you or your company can become a sponsor. You can sponsor 20, 50 or 100 copies through the link below.

What do you receive in return for sponsoring copies?

  • A permanent mention and link on this page
  • A brief mention in the Dispatch
  • A shoutout/mention on Offscreen's Twitter account
  • The great feeling of supporting the next generation of techies 🙂

This campaign has finished. Thanks to our sponsors (further below) for their support.

Where are the copies going?

Depending on the location and shipping cost, each of the below organisations will receive between 10 and 20 copies of mixed issues of Offscreen:

Academy of Our Lady of Peace
aCAT Penang
Accademia Belle Arti Catania
ACMI X
Barnard College
California University of PA
Center Centre
CodeNow
CodeYourFuture
CWRU ACM
École Brassart Nantes
Emzingo U
Fresno State University
Fundamentals Academy
i.c.stars
Jacht — University of Nebraska
Longford college of further ed
Manchester Met University
MICA (Maryland Institute Colle
Parsons School of Design
Service Design Network
Shillington Education
Thayer Academy
The Grace Hopper Program
The New Digital School
University college Howest
University of Colorado Boulder
University of the Arts London
UOC.edu
Yoobee School of Design

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

*We also received requests from colleges in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Peru. Unfortunately, some locations are just too difficult and expensive to reach. I apologise for having to exclude these from our list for now.


Update: Thanks to our sponsors

Thanks so much to our generous EDU sponsors who have collectively covered shipping costs for 210 copies of Offscreen. We will pick up the tab for 90 more copies to round it up to 300. Some of them have already been received, the rest is going out shortly. Thanks to all involved for spreading the word and for chipping in! 🙌

10 Copies – SPOKE.
10 Copies – With Jack
10 Copies – Alex Jacque
10 Copies - Users Insights
10 Copies – INCAYA
10 Copies – Zach Grosser
10 Copies – Subsail
20 Copies – Anonymous
20 Copies – Designing Intelligence
20 Copies – Emerson Stone
30 Copies – Anonymous
50 Copies – Lucid

Reading icon by IYIKON from the Noun Project

Free copies for students and tech newbies

Posted on Oct 12 2017 in News

The problem with most indie magazines is that their price is often prohibitive to students and people trying to get a foot in the door. I'd love to see more copies of Offscreen in the hands of STEM and design students or participants of the many coding classes out there. I believe Offscreen can offer them an alternative perspective on the tech industry and emphasise the importance of humility and empathy in their future contributions to our community.

With every issue I set aside a certain amount of 'free copies' to give away for such causes but sending them around the world is expensive. On average it costs me around $6.50 per copy to cover postage, fulfillment, and packaging.

To reach more folks who can't afford Offscreen I'd like to run a little experiment: Companies can sponsor free copies for $5 a piece. All sponsors will be published (and linked to) on this blog, receive a social media shoutout, and get a mention in a future issue of the Dispatch.

Before I reach out to sponsors though, I want to call on educational providers to put their hand up. If you work at a school, college, library or if you run tech classes for underprivileged people, I want to send you a bunch of free copies!

You are eligible if you..

  • are an educational provider (academic or community-driven)
  • have a website (to verify you're legit)
  • have an official shipping address (I can't send copies to your home)

→ If that's you, apply here. (Form is now closed)

In this first step I'm only collecting addresses of education providers. In the next step (if there is enough demand) I'll be calling on sponsors to chip in with getting those copies delivered. I'm hoping to give out up to 500 free copies in total.

If you like this idea, please help spread the word and share it with friends who teach or run classes. Thanks!

Back to work

Posted on Sep 26 2017 in News

After a busy and intense seven months I was finally able to launch the newly designed website and issue 16 in March this year. But there was little time to celebrate. In publishing, after one issue is always before the next. A couple of weeks after the big reveal, I began planning the content for issue 17. When that issue launched in July I was definitely ready for a break.

And so in August my partner and I got on a plane to Europe. We caught up with family and friends in Germany, hiked through the South Tyrol region in Italy, swam in crystal clear lakes in France, and of course indulged in the region's abundant fresh food. (I occasionally posted photos on Offscreen's Instagram account.)

Before taking off, I scheduled several issues of my weekly newsletter (although the Dispatch did take a two-week break in the middle of our holiday too). I tried to stay offline for much of the holidays, but couldn't avoid checking my emails every now and then and making sure Offscreen orders were being fulfilled as usual.

I'm back in Melbourne now and excited to get started with issue 18. In fact, I've already confirmed three out of four interviewees. It's going to be a cracker of an issue! (Make sure you're subscribed.)

Before I left I told some of you to get in touch again when I'm back from my holidays because I didn't have time to respond properly at the time. If that's you, please follow up on your email. My inbox is depressingly empty.

Yeah, not really. 😉

Human Scale

Posted on Aug 03 2017 in Essays

This essay by Michael Honey first appeared in Offscreen Issue 7 (now sold out).

“Is there anything you like to ask us?” A typical question you hear at the end of most job interviews.

“I am a bit worried,” I said, “about the whole idea of relentlessly driving down supplier costs just so that people on the internet can buy marginally cheaper consumer goods.”

Silence.

I’d like to think that my question rocked him to his core, made him reconsider his life up to this point, caused him to abandon principles he never knew he held. In reality, he was probably making a this-guy-is-an-idiot face to his coworkers on the other end of the line.

“Well, if you feel that way, our organisation might not be a good fit for you.” He hung up and it was over.

I don’t know what I was thinking. If I felt that way, why did I talk to them in the first place? Because it’s always worth talking. Because they were interested. Because it’s nice to feel wanted.

As an independent web guy I often wondered what it would be like to be hired by a giant corporation. I would enjoy the security that comes with money and a big company job. I know from experience that years of worrying about being able to pay the bills take their toll. But I would also be wondering what I could have built instead, had I gone my own way.

If I took that role I’d disappear for a year or two, and out the other end would come a better login screen, a cleaner list view, an improved signup form – and a big paycheck. Those are nice to have but at what cost? The usual pitch that a big company makes is that they have the resources for profound impact on a large scale. Often though, that impact is spread out over millions of users, and it’s in the service of giving corporate investors better capital returns.

‘It doesn’t scale’ is a criticism leveled at many new ideas. It’s true, some things don’t scale to millions of users. No venture capitalist throws their money at an idea that makes just a decent living for a small team. You need explosive growth to reach a worldwide market. But how many things which are good when small get better by becoming bigger? That local restaurant you love can’t scale to millions of users. Do you really want your favourite indie band to aspire to stadium-level fame? People get cheaper books, and an independent bookseller closes its doors to make way for a giant warehouse full of underpaid people working ten-hour shifts. You order your groceries online, but you’ll never bump into your neighbours at the local shop. Is this progress?

I’m aware of the disconnect between decrying large enterprise and, say, owning an iPhone. Some things, good things, are unbuildable without a critical mass – thousands of builders and millions of users. Acknowledging that, though, isn’t it also true that most things get worse as they get bigger? Humans are good at family, middling at community, dysfunctional as nations, and self-destructive as a planet. What doesn’t scale is our ability to relate to each other as human beings instead of target markets, as eyeballs to monetise.

I love technology and the internet and the wonders that it brings. I, too, build it for a living. But I don’t need another social network or more ways to share photos or further technological assistance for catching up with friends. What if we stopped building new things for a while, and tried to make what we have better?

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go huge, to build something for millions, to double in size every few months, to scramble for market share – and then to try and find a way to pay for it all by putting ads on it. Maybe some day it’ll happen.

If I’m honest with myself, I probably would have taken that job had they offered it to me. I would have spent a couple of years generating shareholder value. I would have gained some management experience, a familiarity with Powerpoint, and some inexpensive consumer goods. But instead, I’m now working with a small team of people on human-scale projects for clients I respect.

I’m glad I asked that question.

Enjoyed this essay? Support indie publishing and buy available issues of Offscreen for more thought-provoking reading material in beautiful print.

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