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Issue 18 Editor’s Note

Posted on Feb 08 2018 in Thoughts

After Mills’ encouraging email, I decided to publish the editor’s note of the latest issue here. I believe it’s one of the most important Offscreen issues yet. Make sure you purchase your copy before we sell out.

As the people who create technology, we love to think of ourselves as the architects of a better tomorrow, an exciting future full of positive possibilities. We often believe that the fix for major problems is a technological one: where humans fail, let the machines figure it out. Technology is, by definition, progress. Or so we thought.

In the wake of global upheaval against the status quo, the tech community is coming to terms with having over-promised and under-delivered. Almost weekly, headlines about security breaches remind us that we’re now in the post-privacy age, where private data is just another commodity. Meanwhile, a cultural shift is bringing deeply entrenched gender and racial inequalities into the open. And in Silicon Valley, unicorn defectors publicly apologise for having created addictive UI patterns and shady algorithms that exacerbate social division.

And just like that, the tech world finds itself on a soul-searching mission. The realisation that the ethical decisions made by its creators are baked into all technology has come as a surprise. It turns out that lifeless tools – such as a simple recommendation engine – are not as neutral or amoral as we thought. It’s become clear now that programmers, designers, and data scientists are faced with some of the most pressing ethical dilemmas of our time. This forces us to ask a vital question: are they sufficiently equipped to make decisions on behalf of millions of people?

I would dare to say that we are on the cusp of a new era in technology. For the first time, we’re seeing the broad ethical ramifications of the tools we build, sparking a discussion about what author Fabio Chiusi calls ‘the human ghost in the machines.’ From academics to journalists, and investors to politicians, we’re finally starting to engage in the difficult conversations that could lead us to exciting and much- needed alternatives to the orthodoxies of the last few decades.

In a more enlightened era of tech, we will move beyond a superficial understanding of ’well designed’, which today seems overly concerned with aesthetics. Instead, good design will focus on creating user experiences that are inclusive and empathetic, on writing code that is open and energy-efficient, and on running a business model that doesn’t rely on infinite growth to survive.

Perhaps out of necessity, ‘doing the right thing’ for people, planet, and profit will soon have a much broader, mainstream appeal. Let’s not forget that we – the industry at the forefront of change – carry a tremendous responsibility to lead the way. As the conversations and essays in this issue demonstrate, it is time that we all look inward and ask ourselves whether our work contributes to a tomorrow that will indeed be better than today.

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

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
Barnard College
California University of PA
Center Centre
École Brassart Nantes
Emzingo U
Fresno State University
Fundamentals Academy
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
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. 😉