The Digital Companion

The online journal to Offscreen — for all the things that don’t fit into the magazine. We regularly publish behind-the-scenes posts about the making of an indie magazine. Why not grab the RSS feed and follow along?

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Editor’s Note of Issue #1

This is my editor’s note that first appeared in the inaugural issue (now sold out). A lot of people ask me why I started Offscreen. This intro sums it up nicely:

A print magazine about pixel people? Let me explain.

After a very busy few years of designing interfaces for various clients, an overdue three-month hiatus led me around the world and to the realisation that I’m increasingly missing a lasting personal bond with what I do. The ephemeral nature of digital products and the detachment of the people that create them, make us quick to call a design “ugly”, deem an early release of an app “useless” or proclaim a buggy piece of code “a total fail” to our followers on Twitter. As our industry grows up, many of us seem to have forgotten we are only human and that behind every interface there still hides a story of real people.

Coming back from my trip and having met up with some of my “web friends”, I felt an urge to tell those stories and pin real faces to bits and pixels. But how? There surely was no shortage of blogs, podcasts and online communities to meet and connect. As I unpacked, I stared at the pile of magazines I brought home from places like Mexico City, New York, Tokyo and Berlin. I’m a magazine buff. My love affair stems from their physicality: the way the ink smells and the paper feels when opening them; how you throw them in your backpack to read on the beach, or serendipitously stumble across them in cafes or at the office. As a designer that has only ever known the craft of pushing pixels and writing mark-up, magazines provide me with a much needed creative escape into a more palpable interaction with content.

And that’s when my idea materialised—quite literally. Putting those stories on real paper, they would exist beyond next week. They might be read in five years or even twenty five years, when few remember this iPhone app or that blog post. It’s material evidence of an intangible world. If nothing else, it would give us, as creators and innovators, the longevity and personal appreciation I believe we deserve; a publication that captures a moment in time in our digital age and freeze-frames it onto real paper.

So the idea was born: an actual magazine that explores what happens off the screen outside our digital world. Neither about a specific app, nor a particular website, but about the people that build them. And their stories. A physical product that can be touched, collected, and read anywhere, I believe, is a logical way to present this type of content. Reading it offline, in a distraction-free environment, allows us to step back from the digital context and reflect on our industry from a more permanent and slow-paced angle.

About five months later, after endless hours of planning, editing, designing and mostly chasing down contributors (sorry folks!), this inaugural issue is as much a result of my personal love for the timeless nature of magazines as it is an experiment. Whether enough readers will appreciate this new old way of telling stories to make it a viable business that supports itself, remains to be seen.

As a web designer myself, it’s been a roller coaster ride—wearing the multiple hats of a publisher, writer, editor and art director. Even though I can already think of numerous ways to improve this publication with the next issue, I hope you enjoy reading it. Now, go on… put your Mac to sleep, get comfy and flip a (real) page.

Kai Brach

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