Around 1995 I picked up a magazine called “Wired” and knew that graphic design was something that could be manipulated to manipulate. At the time, nothing was like Wired. They broke new grounds in typography and in design with head-scratching layouts that angered or amused, depending on your intelligence. The magazine embodied the spirit of “technology molding culture”, the very masthead they built the magazine on.
I remember one layout for an article had 2, 4 page spreads dedicated to just two quotes – something that will never be copied today (unless some advertiser paid huge dollars for it, or your magazine is called AdBusters). The printing was silver on silver and you had to angle the page just so to read it. Bad boy publishers indeed!
Today, Wired is tired. Oh it still has some pretty cool infograpics and splashy layouts but it’s not a leader in design anymore. It may even be transforming itself to curmudgeonly, what with the stir of their last article “The Web is Dead“. They may be displaying truth in numbers but the web never actually played to anyone’s rules. That’s another blog post. Point is, ad space and the “death” of print seems to have quieted their creative side.
Yesterday Sir Richard Branson (re)dropped his hat into the publishing world by releasing PROJECT. An entirely digital magazine (not the first, lets be clear) available through the iTunes store [iTunes link]. The smart move? Putting Jeff Bridges on the “cover” with a video overlay of TRON-like effects, tying in this month’s release of Tron and a Fanboy’s raving need for Tron things. Geeks, meet your new eReader.
I had some troubles downloading my initial copy from the Project servers (I suppose it was a busy day for them) and while I was at a Starbucks free WiFi, I wasn’t surprised. It took me two attempts, deleting and reinstalling the app, restarting the iPad and just plain “let it sit” patience for me to finally get my issue. In terms of App space, it’s a hog. I’m not surprised considering how much video is included with this issue, not to mention the audio files (Jeff opens up in little soundbites about Tron, Tron Thongs, The Dude and more). Also some transitions kakked out between finger swipes.
All that aside, I would say that Sir Richard got it right. He and his designers clearly wanted a Minority Report style magazine and they’ve managed to deliver.
For me. It was like picking up Wired magazine back in the 90’s all over again.
So far today I’ve learned that Jaguar has managed to put two twin micro turbines in their latest electric car, Alaska used nukes to create a harbour (and still may continue), Jeff Bridges is a wicked laid back guy and loved his head shave the most when it came to the movie Iron Man. And that’s not even an hours worth of playing with Project. I’m told that there are Easter Eggs to find too, so I’m set for a while. Next issue is Dec 23rd.
Click to see some screengrabs: