Boing 747

04.30.08 | Comment?

The Institute for E-Readership and Counter-Factual Journalism Research at Poynter is at it again.

For those unfamiliar with their work, the Institute looks at how society, reading, and journalism might be affected under various speculative scenarios. They are probably best know for the 2002 study which showed that had Superman’s alter-ego Clark Kent had the blogging and site updating responsibilities of a modern reporter, Lex Luther would have succeeded in destroying the earth at least six; and possibly as many as 148 times between 1952 and 1978. The vagueness in the figure is due, apparently, to when one calculates that the Daily Planet would have switched to DSL from Dial-up—and the impact that would have had on “Kent’s” upload times. “I’d have liked to hit the number with more certainty. But, blowed up six times or 600, we’re all still meat” said Director Ronald Kaplanavich at the time of the study’s release.

This time, the Institute looks at BoingBoing.net, a site that has ranked in the top ten for most of the last decade, imagining how BB might have looked had it started out as a magazine rather than a web venture. The results are stunning, particularly for magazine designers, because they include pages generated with PageMonkey—a Page Maker 2.0 emulator backed up with nearly 8 million dollars worth of artificial intelligence and main frame computing power, which was used to devolve the web site’s design into the crude printed zine you see here…..

Oh, I just can’t keep this up any longer, as fun as it is—lie upon lie upon lie when—will it stop? These are, of course pages from the real Boing Boing, dating from the mid-’90s. Like many period zine/mag hybrids—publications that tottered on the line between commercialism and funky idealism, BB showcases a lot of those awful things we did back then that make our skin crawl today—type squeezed beyond recognition, and often inconsistently; ghastly text wraps, goofy display fonts (Oh I know Pignuts, er, excuse Peignot has its fans but they’re wrong) and too many screens and ghosted images (because they didn’t require a $6.00 printer’s charge for a double-burn).

On the other hand, this issue boasts the cool shirt illustration/infographic above, and an early cover drawing by Dirty Danny Hellman. It also remains the only publication to put images of Allen Ginsberg and Alfred E. Neuman on the same page.

Below: the reason I bought this issue didn’t have anything to do with the editorial portions of the magazine. The ad on the inside front cover, was a delightful stroll down the garden path which led to a new subscription or certain death. I didn’t subscribe, but between you and me, I haven’t slept well since.

The back cover sported this satire of Mondo2000, then enjoying a meteoric success before crashing and burning a few years later.

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