Over at Mimeo/Mimeo, there’s an interesting post arguing that if our aim is to understand the magazine as a medium we make a mistake when we focus too much on the single page or article. Drawing on Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination, Jed Birmingham argues that we can make an analogy in which screen:hard dive as page:magazine, or as he puts it:
The little magazine is first and foremost a storage technology. The focus is not the individual page but the totality of its contents. Thus the little magazine is not just a single screenshot or an isolated moment in space and time but a library, museum, or archive of poems, stories, essays, paintings, photographs documenting a multitude of spaces and times, which in turn alter depending on when, where and how they are read.
I’m in accord with much of the argument here–particularly with the need to go beyond the page and close reading–but am not sure that hard drive is quite right, since the hard drive records in a digital format that is importantly not readable by humans, and I don’t think that magazines are first and foremost storage technologies. That they can become such technologies certainly matters, but I think that it’s their dedication to the present rather than to posterity that marks one of the differences between magazines and books.