Alison Garwood Jones

As the magazine turns …

November 16, 2011

I don’t belong to book clubs because reading — and what I’m reading — feels incredibly private to me. I don’t want to share. I want to think. And problem solve. Alone.

The same goes for music. I feel invaded when someone scrolls through my playlist without asking.

For the moment, books and magazine reading can still offer a private experience. That’s because they’re still being printed on paper, which defies multitasking (except for vacuuming and snack fixing).

When (not if) we move the whole operation to screens and shut down the presses, our sense of privacy will be forever altered. When that day arrives, we will have removed an important psychic boundary that is essential to processing all life throws at us, especially at our most stressful moments.

I think about this all the time. Yesterday I read this quote by a magazine exec on D.B. Scott’s magazine website: “We’re not getting out of the magazine business. We’re getting out of the paper business,” said CEO Steve Weitzner on the decision to take his company, Ziff David Enterprise, 100% paperless starting in January. “The ability to look at what others are tweeting, share on your social networks, and pull in related content are things that print can never do,” he said.

Then Hugh MacLeod posted this cartoon on his website today:

They’re both right. And naturally I’ll keep moving with the times ’cause I’m a plucky adapter, albeit one who squints at the halting social skills of gamers and despairs at the first date couples who pull out their smart phones during awkward silences. I see it all the time. I work at a bar.

Still, here’s a challenge for our future selves: Let’s get back to infusing silence with meaning generated from within, not without.

I doubt it will work because so many people prefer running from themselves. And technology offers the perfect accomplice.



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