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Does This Make Me Transhuman?
June 16, 2010 - 2:49am


An acquaintance who was a mid-level IT manager likes to remind me, every time I say I resist technology, that I tend to use it early and often. We met, for instance, working for a Fortune 1000 company, where I was the first employee to write and assemble digital pages in the production process. Before that, thousands of catalog pages each year were mocked-up and type-spec’d by graphic artists, the copy was sent out for typesetting, and finished boards were shot and stripped by a traditional pre-press department that made color-separated plates for the printing press from film.

As far back as 1984 I was hip to be square when I bought Marty McFly’s video camera. (Anyone interested in this thing? I’m putting it in the yard sale.) When I started teaching in the late ‘90s, I used camcorders and tandem VCRs, then early consumer software, to make short movies with students.

Much of my writing life has taken place on the web, first as columnist then as what must have been one of the first billion paid bloggers. And thanks to the excellent design firm Poccuo, I have my own website, where I can park my books and wax their covers periodically.

Some of my favorite literary journals exist only online, including Perigee, the startup Serving House, Opium, and of course Brevity, run by our friend Dinty W. Moore.

Now, one of my pieces from Brevity has been reprinted in Sideways, one of the first magazines designed specifically for the iPad. The magazine’s parent company, founded by Charles Stack, who founded and later sold it to Barnes & Noble, launched magazines for both the iPad and iPhone at last month’s BookExpo America. The idea, I guess, is to use the platforms to best effect, not just to cram an online mag onto a smaller screen. Sideways was at #3 in iPad Lifestyle apps, last I checked.

There’s been a lot of talk about the iPad as the next step in publishing. See our friend Bud Parr on why the Virginia Quarterly Review is “the smartest magazine on the planet and has embraced the future of magazines” or “ how good design can lead us to freedom,” or read the New York Review of Books on the iPad “revolution.”

Most of all, do me a favor and download the Sideways app and let me know how my essay looks, whether they added graphics or links, or what makes it special on the iPad. I’ll never know otherwise, since I’m not that into technology.


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