petak, 6. prosinca 2013.

Aeon magazine

Aeon Magazine

Ako se netko pita je li Aeon najbolji intelektualni magazin na webu, znači da ima i vatre.

Is Aeon Magazine the best magazine on the Internet?


If “slow media” needs a poster child, it can find one in Aeon Magazine, an online publication about culture and ideas that marks its first birthday tomorrow. In the space of a year, the magazine, started by a London-based Australian couple who have no background in media, has established itself as a first-rate example of a modern-day magazine, free from the constraints of legacy press and proudly aloof from the pageview-chasing linkbaitery of the Web 2.0 era. It publishes top writers, carries no ads, and encourages readers to save its stories for reading later via the likes of Instapaper, Kindle, or Pocket. Publishing just one essay a day, five days a week, it serves as a venue for considered cultural critiques, thoughtful essays on existentialism, and deep dives on science and nature.
Aeon is, right now, my favorite magazine. It is also, I think, the best example of a magazine built for the age of mobile. It focuses on reading over revenue. It favors contemplation over consumption. In letting its articles travel anywhere its readers go, it pays no heed to the “bundle.”
“We saw Aeon as something of a corrective to the sense that a lot of people have of drowning in information,” says Paul Hains, co-founder and managing director of the company. “We really try to look at the deeper issues, the ideas, and the values that are animating the news, and we focus on those things in particular.”
Standout stories published by Aeon in its first year include Ross Andersen’s 8,000-word report on the likelihood of imminent human extinction, neuroscientist Michael Graziano’s essay about a new theory of consciousness, Mary HK Choi’s paean to her mother, and Jessica Gamble’s rumination on contemporary sleeping habits. The articles, grouped under categories entitled “World Views,” “Nature & Cosmos,” “Being Human,” “Living Together,” and “Altered States,” always run long and are sharply edited (the editorial team includes editors with experience at The Daily Telegraph, The New Statesman, and the Los Angeles Review of Books). While the essays often trade in academic subjects, they are communicated in plain terms accessible to a wide readership.
“We don’t want our pieces to feel abstruse or specialist,” says Aeon’s editor Brigid Hains, who has an academic background, holding a PhD in history and a graduate degree in anthropology. Instead, the publication strives for what the Hainses call “idea egalitarianism.”
The Hainses are a married couple who wanted to start an online forum for what is essentially the antidote to the Twitterized hyper-torrent of information splidgets that now assault us on a daily basis. “Brigid and I had a view that there were ideas and ways of thinking that were under-represented in the cultural conversation,” says Paul. “Aeon as a magazine is a vehicle to create a focus on these ideas and foster discussion around them.”
Paul, who used to work in finance but has an abiding interest in psychology and comparative religion, funds Aeon. He has put up enough capital (he declines to say how much) to last for three years, so the company can focus on the quality of its product without having to worry about money. So if you’re looking to Aeon for magic solutions to journalism’s business model problem, you won’t find it here.
“The longer we can defer making any commitments to a specific business model, the better we’ll be,” says Paul, “because the landscape is changing all the time.”
That means Aeon’s stories are free, even while the publication pays its writers at rates comparable to those paid by broadsheet newspapers. (The founders won’t say exactly what that rate is, but Brigid says 60 cents a word is “not a bad guess.”) It also means there are no ads, and the editors don’t mind if you leave the Aeon website to read a story somewhere else. A link to “Read later or Kindle” is placed on the same line as the by-line and the word-count, a subtle indicator that the story is king, even if it means readers ultimately spend less time on the site.
The content-first approach to modern publishing may turn out to be a winner, even as the business challenges for journalism remain significant and unresolved. Thanks to the distributive networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and email, and the concurrent rise of mobile devices as the mediums to which those networks pump content, the idea of a homepage or a magazine bundle just simply doesn’t matter as much as it did in the print age or the first two decades of the Web.
Stories must now travel on their own, to be judged on their individual strengths independent of the context within which they were originally placed. Soon, if it’s not true already, magazine brands will matter more as marks of quality or tone than they do as gatherers and arrangers of content in a unified experience. By predicating its publishing model on stories that can be pried from the bundle and whose ideas stand on their own, Aeon confirms itself as a bankable brand synonymous with quality and depth. It publishes stories based not on how many clicks their headlines might generate, but on engaging people’s attention for a meaningful period of time. That is the standard to which magazines of the mobile era must aspire.
Of course, unlike other startup publications, Aeon can afford such luxuries, because it doesn’t yet have to worry about making money. In three years’ time, it may be forced to take a less reader-friendly approach in a search for revenue. In terms of business, all Aeon has proven in its first 12 months is that it can fund its own boutique publishing operation. The real tests come as it scales, and when the numbers in the bank account approach zero. For now, traffic on the site seems to be doing okay. Some stories do much better than others, with the most-circulated pieces attracting as many as 2,000 tweets or Facebook likes. But the founders decline to share traffic numbers.
Next, Aeon will build on its brand by launching a companion site dedicated to films (as distinct from “videos,” Paul stresses). Aeon Film will reflect the ethos of the magazine, say the Hainses, with an emphasis on short documentaries. The films showcased will be a mix of material curated from around the Web and exclusives that the company pays to license.
The film vertical, says Paul, will seed the transition from the text-based digital publication to a multimedia product. At that point, Aeon will be one step more unconventional than it already is. It is the magazine that isn’t, the anti-aggregator, the publication that insists on going slow when every other force of the Internet demands that we speed up.

But considering how well traditional models are working in today’s media landscape, unconventional is probably a good thing. -

Being Human

Food, glorious food: Photo by Nickolas Muray/George Eastman House/Getty Images

The madeleine effect

Why is the smell and taste of some foods so evocative of the past? I spent a day eating childhood favourites to find out
Julian Baggini 04 December 2013
Food at a graveside during the Korean festival of Chusok. Photo by Michel Setboun
Korean Thanksgiving
‘Take a photo of the spread,’ my mother says. ‘This way you can remember what to arrange when I’m dead.’
Mary H K Choi 27 November 2013
Life support systems; Facebook server room. Photo by Jason Madara/Gallery Stock
The digital soul
My Facebook page may be part of my identity, but can it give me a virtual afterlife?
Patrick Stokes 20 November 2013
A seance in Paris, circa 1900. Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty
Life after death
The idea of life after death lives on in near-death experiences and messages from beyond the grave. What’s the evidence?
Jesse Bering 13 November 2013
Brigitte Bardot posing for a fashion shoot in a studio, Paris, 1958. Photo by Nicolas Tikhomiroff/Magnum
Are you looking at me?
What goes on in our minds when we see someone naked? The more we see of a person's body the stupider they seem
Matthew Hutson 06 November 2013
The washerwoman and her son. Photographed in 1891. Photo Bettmann/Corbis
Human stains
The laundry will never be done. Rather than pedalling faster and faster the answer is to surrender to the eternal tide
Heather Havrilesky 30 October 2013
Grandfather, author and President R Venkataraman. Photo supplied by the author
The wanderer
My grandfather was a legend – a holy vagabond whose life spanned India’s 20th century. Why did I let him elude me?
Samanth Subramanian 23 October 2013
Photo by Anna Pogossova/Gallery Stock
Je regrette
Our forward-charging culture sees regret as a sign of weakness and failure. But how else can we learn from our past?
Carina Chocano 16 October 2013
Detail from the visualization of the model juvenile rat cortical column, as created by the Blue Brain Project in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo courtesy EPFL/Blue Brain Project
The mental block
Consciousness is the greatest mystery in science. Don’t believe the hype: the Hard Problem is here to stay
Michael Hanlon 09 October 2013
Melissa Stetten in Santa Barbara, California. Photo by James Gunn
Hot girl #2
Because I'm getting older, my days as a model are numbered – and I'm not sure what to do next
Melissa Stetten 02 October 2013

Nature and Cosmos

Grasshopper (Acrididae), Barbilla National Park, Costa Rica. Photo by Piotr Naskrecki/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Die, selfish gene, die

The selfish gene is one of the most successful science metaphors ever invented. Unfortunately, it’s wrong
David Dobbs 03 December 2013
The RoboRoach. Photo courtesy of Backyard Brains
I, cockroach
Do insects feel pain? Are they conscious? A science kit for at-home cyborg cockroaches provokes the hard questions
Brandon Keim 19 November 2013
From Saturn's rings, Earth is seen as a distant shining light (bottom right) in this image taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Photo courtesy NASA/JPL
The calibrated cosmos
Is our universe fine-tuned for the existence of life – or does it just look that way from where we’re sitting?
Tim Maudlin 12 November 2013
Touchy, feely; a diver and a dolphin. Photo by George Karbus Photography/Gallery Stock
Keep smiling
Is there any reason to think dolphins and humans have a special relationship? Sure, but it might not be a friendly one
Justin Gregg 05 November 2013
Baboons, Kenya. Photo by Luigi Masella/Getty
Kindred spirits
Animals have friends, enemies, allies and life-long companions. Human relationships aren't so unique after all
Barbara J King 22 October 2013
Trails left by circumpolar stars, as viewed from Star Axis, a monumental work of land art in the New Mexico desert. Photo courtesy of Charles Ross
Embracing the void
The ancients had pyramids to tame the sky's mystery. We have Star Axis, a masterpiece forty years in the making
Ross Andersen 15 October 2013
Overview of the contruction site of the new London Gateway port on the north side of the Thames estuary in Essex, England. Photo courtesy London Gateway/DP World
Liquid history
The Thames has seen the riches of empire flow for centuries. But now the river is threatened by a super-port development
Rachel Lichtenstein 08 October 2013
Sustainable fishing for short-spine thornyhead off the coast of Big Sur, California. Photo by Bridget Besaw/Aurora Open/Corbis
The good catch
Hope for the world's devastated oceans rests on a change in the hearts of the fishermen that know them best
Megan Molteni 01 October 2013
Getting back to nature: a visitor takes a photo of jellyfish in the aquarium in Wuhan, China. Photo by Reuters
We surf the net, stream our films and save stuff in the cloud. Can we get all the nature we need from the digital world?
Sue Thomas 24 September 2013
On the Svalbard archipelago, 600 miles north of Norway.  All photos by Greg White
Deep chill
The Arctic Seed Vault puts apocalyptic talk of climate change in perspective – but not how you might think
Colin Dickey 17 September 2013

Altered States

Seamus Heaney in 1996. Photo by Martine Franck/Magnum Photos

Last words

As we mourn the poet, do we not mourn the loss of what he had in his keeping: a way of living that served us for aeons?
Sven Birkerts 06 December 2013
The Ring of Brodgar at moon rise, Orkney islands, UK. Photo by Werner Forman/Getty
Night life
Back on the islands of my childhood, I’m clinging to sobriety, searching for a rare bird that’s also on the brink
Amy Liptrot 26 November 2013
James Irwin salutes the US flag on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission. Photo courtesy of NASA
Dark side of the moon
Like evangelists, astronauts travel far and return with glad tidings. But however high they ascend, they’re only human
Fraser MacDonald 15 November 2013
Photo: Getty images
Get your kicks
No wonder adolescents jump off cliffs and fall in crazy love – they are constantly stifled by school and society alike
Guy Claxton 08 November 2013
Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments. Photo by J R Eyerman/Time Life Pictures/Getty
A drop in the sea
What are the odds that Jesus rose or Moses parted the waves? Even with the best witnesses, vanishingly small
Lawrence Shapiro 01 November 2013
A stairway in Tutankhamun’s tomb, c.1925. Photo Hulton Archive/Getty
The mummy’s curse
It came from an Egyptian tomb... Well no, actually, it didn’t. But once a myth lurches into life, there’s no stopping it
Jo Marchant 25 October 2013
Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters
Travel the world, but work on New York time. This is what I learned about circadian rhythms by unravelling my own
Cara Parks 18 October 2013
Mysterious meanings; a Taoist priest stands in an entrance to the 700-year-old Dongyue Temple in central Beijing November 5, 2012. Photo by David Gray/Reuters
The uncertainty machine
Forget prophecy and wisdom. Using the I Ching is a weirdly useful way to open your mind to life’s unexpected twists
Will Buckingham 11 October 2013
Medical students make use of a cadaver left to science at the Humboldt University, Berlin. Photo by DPA/PA
I’d rather be dissected
There are not enough whole-body donations to science. Why don’t people want their death to help the living?
Brooke Borel 04 October 2013
Riding the storms; detail from artwork by Kinuko Y Craft. Photo by National Geographic/Corbis
Learning to fall apart
My OCD had been creating vivid, painful rituals for years. So could Buddhist ritual give me a means to fight back?
Matt Bieber 27 September 2013

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