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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We have a date! Issue No9 launches September 11, starts shipping September 17. Can’t wait!

Almost time to pack my bag again. You’ll find me at these events in the next few weeks:

IndieCon in Hamburg (speaking)
upfront in Berlin (attending)
CSSConf in Berlin (attending closing party)
The Modern Magazine in London (speaking)

I’ll be in Berlin during the time in between Hamburg and London. Hit me up if you want to have a coffee and talk magazines/tech. :)

A heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to all the good people who supported last week’s fundraiser for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. After expenses I was left with $421 which I rounded up to $450. You can find a donation receipt here.

For a week fairly close to a new issue release, this wasn’t bad. But yes, we can do more! There will be further fundraisers in the future, for sure. :)

Fundraiser 2014: Help me support asylum seekers in Australia

Short version:

Starting today, ending next week Wednesday Aug 20th, I’ll donate all profits from sales of current and back issues to the Asylum Seeker Resource Center here in Australia, an organisation that helps refugees with the difficult challenge to get into and settle in Australia.

Buy any back or current issue and about $12 of each issue sold will go towards the Asylum Seeker Resource Center to support human rights and help refugees find a better life in Australia.

Help now, buy a copy

The longer, more f*cked-up version:

In March last year, I’ve donated the profits of that month to Watsi to help fund urgent medical treatments for the poor — in total around $2000. A few months ago, I auctioned off the last few brand new copies of issue No1-3 through ebay. They sold for $311, with the money, again, going towards treatments of people in need via Watsi. Since issue No7 I make small donations to the World Land Trust with every issue — a tiny step towards making print magazines more sustainable (I also use recycled materials only).

While money is always of short supply and my budget for creating new issues hasn’t increased much over the years, I still wish I could do more to give back and raise awareness of problems that I feel strongly about. While I can’t afford a whole month of profits for charity this year, I’d like to dedicate one week to raising money (and awareness) for an issue that’s close to my heart, being located here in Melbourne, Australia.

Most of my international readers won’t know, but here in Australia the two biggest political parties are currently violating human rights by refusing to let asylum seekers enter the country. Both parties are taking part in a public campaign of fear-mongering to convince the public that ‘illegal immigrants’ are threatening our country, taking away our wealth, and destroying all that’s good about Australia. (If you are interested in Australia’s shameful attitude towards migrants, a short history lesson here.)

The result is that the Australian military intercepts refugees arriving on ramshackle boats near Australia’s coast in order to lock them up in detention centres where they wait for years to be processed and then sent back home or to other countries. Australia has numerous of these prisons off-shore, in neighbouring countries such as Nauru — I assume because lawful supervision of its conditions and practices is more difficult. Media cannot enter these facilities. Riots breaking out inside these detention centers are not a rarity, and neither are stories of self-harm and suicide.

As an immigrant myself, I feel ashamed about how this country treats people that have escaped war zones and persecution in the hope for a better life. They risk their lives to reach Australia, just to be locked up for years and then sent back or resettled in other countries. Amongst many here in Australia, there is a sense of shock and disgust about how openly and aggressively the leaders of this country are disregarding human life that’s not ‘certified Australian’. We seem to reach a new ethical low with every day that passes. Ironically this happens in a country that wouldn’t exist in its current form without people arriving here by boat in the first place.

One organisation that keeps up my hope is the Asylum Seeker Resource Center (ASRC). Its many volunteers and advocates support refugees by providing food, shelter, health services, general advice, and legal support. It’s also an important lobbyist and proponent for the humane treatment of all asylum seekers in this country.

So starting today, for the next 7 days I’ll donate all profits from sales of current and back issues to the ASRC here in Australia. Because I don’t buy into the bullshit our neo-liberal, conservative government is selling us, and because I think no matter what your political view, we all have enough to share a little with those who need it most.

Please help me in my effort: buy any current or back issue and the profit (about $12 per issue) will go towards supporting the Asylum Seeker Resource Center to hold up human rights and help refugees find a better life in this country.

Note that this applies to current and back issues only, future issues are excluded. It’s a great opportunity to get those missing back issues. :)

Thanks for your support!
Kai Brach, Publisher

Help now, buy a copy

PS: I usually try to steer clear from politics with anything Offscreen-related, and I will continue to do so. I just wanted to provide a bit of background why I’ve chosen to give to ASRC.

Another issue in the making, another donation to the World Land Trust. You can help, too!

I remember when I first came across Ugmonk’s website. It wasn’t just the beautiful products that drew me in, it was the story behind them.

What seemed like quite a big fashion label at first, turned out to be a one-man show. Reading through Jeff’s journey, taking Ugmonk from side-gig to full-time job, running the entire operation from his parents’ basement, I felt inspired to create my own thing, too. A bit envious about what Jeff had created, I bought a tee (the Mountains shirt) to see what the fuss was all about.

The fascination with real products and creating my own brand lay dormant for another two years, when in 2011 I stumbled across a few magazines which reignited my enthusiasm for making something physical and selling it online. And the rest is history, as they say.

Ever since I first saw it, the Ugmonk brand has been a huge inspiration — and continues to be, as Jeff is launching more amazing products and is giving back with fundraisers.

That first shirt I bought from Jeff became one of my favourites, not least because it reminded me of Jeff’s story and what a single person can achieve if you work hard and don’t lose focus. And that’s why it’s such a pleasure and honour to announce the Mountains-Offscreen Bundle. For one week only, you can grab the legendary Mountains Tee, plus a copy of any available issue of Offscreen for just $32 (plus shipping). Needless to say, it makes for a great gift, too. So don’t miss out!

Issue No9 is still a while away, but I managed to secure the sponsors for this issue very early. As usual, I’m super proud and grateful for having the following companies support my efforts in making a great mag for you all:

What I learned about public speaking so far

As I’m going through a pile of receipts to prepare my taxes (the Australian financial year ends in June — we’re weird like that), I’ve just realised that I’ve been doing quite a bit of public speaking these last 12 months. Considering that I always thought of myself as an introvert — and still do — I’m just wondering how that happened.

Had you asked me two years ago to do a talk in front of 250 people, you probably would have seen me faint before you finished your question. So what changed? Not entirely sure, but here’s what I’ve learned about public speaking so far:

  • Speaking in front of crowds is a million times easier if you talk about something that you created and only you know most about. While I wouldn’t feel confident enough to do a one hour talk on publishing or editing or design by itself, I can very easily talk about how I did all of these things as part of creating Offscreen. There is no right or wrong, because Offscreen is what it is. You might have a different, more efficient process, but I have proven that what I do works for me. That simple truth gives me enough credibility to go on stage and talk about it. Seems obvious? It wasn’t to me, until I tried.
  • I have never met a speaker that wasn’t nervous before going on stage, no matter if it’s their first or their hundredth gig. Sweaty palms belong to public speaking like bacon to egg.
  • On a similar note, while walking on stage it’s totally normal to have thoughts like “Holy balls, what the heck was I thinking when I said ‘yes’ to this?!” In most cases this feeling turns into a “Hell yeah, that was awesome!” when you walk off. Talks are emotionally draining.
  • A few seconds of silence in between slides feel totally natural to the audience, yet extremely awkward to the speaker. It’s hard but important to remember that when on stage.
  • Strangely, I find speaking in front of larger groups (100+ people) easier than smaller ones. In an intimate classroom setting you have direct eye contact with pretty much everyone, which is hugely distracting. There is always that one person that is bored to death waiting to throw you for a loop.
  • Getting good feedback after a talk makes public speaking highly addictive. Getting no feedback at all, however, leaves you wondering if you put everyone to sleep and makes you want to never do it again. I therefore always tell people that I appreciated their talk if that’s the case and I get a chance. I now know that it feels amazing getting the thumbs up.
  • To conference organisers: before your event starts, get all the speakers on stage and let them introduce themselves in 10 seconds each. This way everyone in the room knows the face of each speaker and can ask questions before and after their talk. It just helps break the ice a bit.
  • So far, I have never been paid a fee to speak (unless it was a guest lecture at a college), and I don’t mind at all. I’m aware that my talk is kind of a promotion for the magazine anyway. Of course, this is different for a lot of other speakers out there. I found that not being paid a fee also lowers the pressure to provide ‘a great show’.
  • Last but absolutely not least: I love meeting readers face-to-face. There’s nothing better than attaching a real face to these Twitter avatars. And it’s a great reminder of why I started Offscreen in the first place!

Speaking of speaking: I’ll be doing another talk at this year’s The Modern Magazine conference in London in September. Come!

As you may know, I’ve recently opened up our Patron program for the upcoming issue No9. Around half of the slots are gone already, but we still have 13 to go. To sweeten the deal, I’m delighted to say that we’re giving away a couple of great prizes amongst all 25 final patrons.

My friends from Joli Originals have chipped in a set of their beautiful Cable Wraps and our loyal give-away partners from TwelveSouth have provided one of their amazing HoverBars. (Thanks so much guys!)

All patrons (including those who already signed up) will go in the draw to win one of the two prizes. Winners will be picked when I close the patron program or when all 25 slots are gone. Now you have even more of a reason to support Offscreen. Go sign up now!

Quick reminder that I’ll be speaking about the making of Offscreen at this year’s Forge Copenhagen on June 20th. There are still tickets left. Come and see me and much more talented folks talk about building things and being creative. Can’t wait!

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