Saturday, September 23, 2006

A 'zine of your own

Had this post kicking around. Written last week, but never posted. Since I'm a little light on content for your Monday morning Moon Topples fix, here it is...

Ever read a magazine and thought to yourself, "Man, I wish this magazine was tailored only to my personal tastes and interests! I want to read more about [obscure folk act] and not about [successful boy band]. And why are there no articles about [soon-to-be-defunct indie artist] instead of [12-page fashion spread]? And why is this [rap artist] blathering on about [automatic weapons and love for grandmother]? There must be a better way!" But where you substituted the bracketed items for your own opinions?

Yeah, I didn't think so. But somebody thought you did.

While trolling the web, I came across a site called Seems they're launching an online magazine in October which is customizable. It appears to be a music magazine, but that might just be the examples they give. And it might just be a well-designed RSS aggregator. Plus they call it Idio, which is just a letter from calling it "Idiot."

You log in and create a profile, rating interests and what-not. Whether you prefer acoustic stuff or metal. If you care about industry info or not.

Then the magazine "publishes," and you rate the articles you read, which has an effect on the info in your profile, making it either more or less likely you'll get another, simliar article in the future. Articles show up in spread format. There are some features for flipping pages, and the content of the 'zine gets organized along the bottom into different little thumbnail representations based on what you haven't read yet, what you've read but not rated, and stuff you're apparently done with, because you've done both.

The design looks pretty nice, but it's hard to tell what the experience will actually be like from the screencast they provide, narrated by a British woman who uses "we" a lot ("We update our profile...") which is kind of creepy. She also describes the layout as "sexy," and the difficulty of filling out a profile as "dead simple." The screencast spends most of its time on what it might be like to set up a profile on your own some day (oh, boy!), and might be a bit more compelling to folks who have never before filled out a form online.

And it seems to use things like your birthday to generate some of your content, which may or may not be a good idea. My mom is gonna be 59, and she just adores hardcore rap, trance, and grindcore. And when I was a teenager, I would have wanted to read mostly about classic rock. Maybe it's just their way of gathering more personal data from subscribers, and passing it off as important to the experience.

They don't say how often your content might update, what topics might be included, whether the content will be original to the magazine or not, or really any info about what they plan to publish outside of the examples in the screencast being about music. There's not even a sample article in the screencast. When it goes to the "live" page, its all "Lorem ipsum" Greek text. So maybe they're marketing to folks who just really like magazines for the sake of being magazines.

Still, it might be cool, and it's free, so I'll probably check it out when it launches in late October. If nothing else, maybe I can trash the real version here at [The Moon Topples].

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm one of those "somebody" behind idiomag :) Thus thought I'd answer a few of your questions.

When we launch we will be covering mainly Music and Design/Digital Art content, but expanding rapidly to cover most bases by Christmas.
We are a kinda "glossy" rss-aggregator, although rather than taking a straight feed we actively license articles from major "content providers" - websites and communities.

I hope Fay didn't freak you out too much - she's honestly not a creepy girl :p

The system has function which smoothes the flow of articles (on launch) - so you don't get overly swamped each day. When launched we will be working with about 15 large content providers so you should be getting a reasonable flow of articles daily, while we continue to expand our content offerings.

Finally the age thing is relevant for regulations about what content we could potentially give to certain age groups (sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.. well maybe not the last). Plus we can always say happy birthday!

All the best, and if you have any more questions pop us and email via the website :)