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April 2010

Media, Meet 48 Hour Magazine

"Is print dead?"

"Is print dead?"

"Hey! Is print dead?"

You don't have to be a player of inside baseball to have heard that question bandied about over and over again. Whether or not the printed word is terminally ill is not only the source of consternation at publishing houses and newspapers, it is also a discussion being had around dinner tables. The question isn't just the reason why magazine ad men drink at night (or in the morning), the question has become a constant for even the most casual of observers.

Of course, some would staunchly argue, print is not dead. Nor is it dying, nor is it going away any time soon. Others, however, aren't so sure, and their uncertainty is compounded by a loss in print advertising dollars the likes of which the industry has never seen.

Magazines are folding, newspapers are bleeding money like stuck pigs, and radio and TV aren't faring much better. There has been a sea change, and how the tides will turn is anyone's guess.

Recently McSweeney's was lauded for its San Francisco-centric Panorama, a "21st Century newspaper prototype." Dave Eggers and pals assembled talented writers, reporters, photographers, and designers, and together they produces a sprawling, gorgeous, color-printed newspaper that was a sight to behold. The content was solid. The layout was superb.

Thing is, the paper cost readers a hefty $16 to purchase--not what one is used to paying for a newspaper, no matter how pristine. And despite its excellence, get this: It took nearly a full year to bring the Panorama paper to fruition.

While Panorama is a worthwhile special project, the cost and time do not a sustainable business model make.

Enter: 48 Hour Magazine.

According to the website, 48 Hour Magazine is:

Welcome to 48 Hour Magazine, a raucous experiment in using new tools to erase media's old limits. As the name suggests, we're going to write, photograph, illustrate, design, edit, and ship a magazine in two days.

Here's how it works: Issue Zero begins May 7th. We'll unveil a theme and you'll have 24 hours to produce and submit your work. We'll take the next 24 to snip, mash and gild it. The end results will be a shiny website and a beautiful glossy paper magazine, delivered right to your old-fashioned mailbox. We promise it will be insane. Better yet, it might even work.

So far, 3200 people have signed up to contribute. 3200.

Think about that number for a second. 3200 people--3200 web-centric people--are interested in making a quality print magazine happen.. That is a staggering number. And if the result of this project could very well be a solid, readable, captivating magazine. It is a lofty goal, but one not unachievable.

Traditional media outlets are not nimble. They are not quick. They are many things, but agile is not one of them, and this is to their detriment.

Watch closely this 48 Hour Magazine experiment, especially if you are interested in the shifting paradigms of media. It just might be something spectacular.

RELATED: Follow 48 Hour Magazine on Twitter

Bow Down, Brain

I started taking Bikram yoga classes.

It may not make you lose weight, or detoxify your body, or give you great skin, or tone your legs, or reduce cellulite, or make you sleep better, though I have heard (and can imagine) it does all those things.

No matter.

Because after the 90 minutes of sweating and stretching and bending and balancing it feels like a party in your brain. Seriously: best high ever.

Everything but the Girl

I didn't notice until the elderly woman who boarded had to take a giant step to avoid stepping on her.

Her legs were crossed in the aisle, her hands primly folded in her lap. Her head hung, but her chin did not rest on her chest. Instead her skull bounced around with each bump the bus took like an apple attached to the end of a pipe cleaner. Long strings of drool slipped from her parted mouth and onto her blouse.

"Is she okay?"

A young man in a worn Red Sox hat was asking the bus driver about the young woman. The driver waved his hand at the Sox fan. I couldn't hear if he responded.

The young man took his seat all the while shaking his head.

I watched more saliva fall from her face.

The half a dozen passengers on board all looked in her direction from time to time to see her head springing around on her neck.

She was far, far away. Her legs and hands were still crossed when I got off.