There is nothing permanent except change - a variant translation of Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe. In no other time in history, has change been so fast, so organic, and at times so natural in our hectic, hyper- lives. This phrase kept bouncing inside me as I watched a video of the new prototype Mag+, a new digital magazine concept by multi-channel media giant Bonnier in collaboration with Berg, a design consultancy out of London.
The Mag+ project is the first public of Bonnier's R&D division and we are glad they have allowed us to be a part of the experience. Although not the first in its kind, the Mag+ project has created an online buzz (search "Bonnier" in Twitter) that has allowed them to see the interest and the opinion of its followers to the product.
"The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading, which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reading experience in which high-quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories."
text from Bonnier
In order to capture the essence of the concept, Berg developed a video that presents us with a colloquial experience to the utilization of the product, therefore allowing us to connect with the possibility and feasibility of the product in our lives. The environments in which it is placed and the ease of use and simplicity to its design allows for permissiveness to its use. Its public release serves to create a discourse that permits change and adaptation through the communication between potential consumers and the Mag+ team.
"The purpose of publishing this concept video is first and foremost to spark a discussion around the digital reading experience in general, and digital reading platforms in particular. Thus, we would be more than happy to hear what you have to say regarding the concept and ideas expressed in the video: the magazine reading experience, digital browsing, text versus images, as well as hear about your own digital reading experiences and thoughts. We are all ears."
text from Bonnier
Depending on the generation, many of us cannot remember that last revolutionary change in the magazine industry. For as long as I can remember, my experience has been encapsulated in the same context: an unexpected gift in the mail (since I am never sure when the subscriptions arrive), an occasional five to ten minutes in a bookstore browsing through publications or the infamous quick glance prior to the store associate telling you that you cannot read unless you buy. These experiences have all occurred with printed magazines, until relatively recently, I have adopted online reading as my primary source for the information and resources I seek.
The vision into our ever changing behaviors with digital media, digital type and reading habits is the essence of this prototype. The way we communicate and expect to receive information has changed drastically is the past ten years. Email, instant messaging, text messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), micro blogging and others, have transformed today’s information flow, delivery and display. It was a matter of time for us to start seeing what may seem an evolutionary change to us, but revolutionary changes to the magazine industry. If we adjust ourselves to frequent changes of everyday objects such as cell phones, televisions, cameras or computers, why have we not expected change in the magazine industry?
As our time online continues to increase, many publishers are looking for ways to stay current or attempt to get ahead in the digital millennium. The Mag+ seems to provide a pleasant and exciting experience to magazine reading, but will it serve all the needs and tackle the changes of print to digital efficiently? Online reading seems to be more about skimming, browsing and linkage. Access to multiple resources and opinions provides readers a broad palette in which they can selectively construct their own point of view.
+ Will the Mag+ and all the other e-magazines serve the mass public or a select few premium members?
+ At what price will it come?
+ Would people invest in purchasing yet another device to consume information or will it be a quick drive-thru fad?
All these questions seem to be facing scrutiny in 2010 due to the expected e-magazine launch in the market. Until then, let us focus on this inspiring and thought provoking concept.
The Mag+ seems to show a balance in technology and design. Its simple yet engaging interface pulls you into the content. Check. Its contrast to the ordinary objects in a home satisfies the desire to possess a device that its forward thinking and revolutionary in its kind. Check. Its interface is user friendly to my already developed digital behaviors. Check. Its content is rich, dynamic, exciting and new. Check. Its price? Still to be determined. Time and our input will only tell the success of this concept by Bonnier.