Sunday, June 09, 2024

Zine, Blog, Podcast: A Media History of Self-Indulgence


Sometimes I find myself thinking about the sequence, zine, blog, and podcast. I think about this in part because at one time or another I have had, or been involved with all three. In some ways each offers the same promise of DIY, self produced, media. Although I different scales of influence and material investment. 

To produce a zine all you need is access to a copier, or a Kinkos. That would make it possible to produce a zine. Getting it out was a different story. I did two issues of a zine when I was in college. Each had a run of about two hundred issues, available for stamps or trade. I am not sure if I got rid of all of them. A blog requires internet access, but not much technological knowledge, and can get more hits for one post in a day than an entire blog run. A podcast requires more technological knowledge, more capital in the form of a decent microphone, editing software etc., and can reach as many people as a blog, with the added bonus that if you get people to listen they will take in more. A blogpost can be read in a few minutes, but podcasts generally run an hour an episode. The history of independently produced media is a history of increased dissemination, it is easier to get more people to see or hear your ideas, but one that comes at increased cost and investment in technology.

In each case we are talking only about the possibility of dissemination, a zine, a blog,  or a podcast still has to reach an audience and convince them that it is worth their time. In the days of zines the primary way of making people aware of your zine was trading it with other zines, that and the coveted review in Maximum Rock and Roll or Punk Planet. Blogs and podcasts are more or less dependent on the attention economy of vectoralist class. 

It also occurred to me that one could make the same jokes about zines, blogs, and podcast. To have a zine, a blog, or a podcast is to be seen as being a little too invested in your own opinion and point of view. 

All of which is a long introduction to say that I just found out that my old zines are available on the Internet Archive.

There is not much to say about these zines. They are objects of nostalgia for me. I am not sure why anyone else would want to read them. They are worth sharing for two reasons. One, zines and zine culture was formative of my philosophical education. I do not think that I am alone in this, I have met too many people who have come to academia through the world of punk and zines. Some of the para-academic dimension of these zines is a bit much. I remember getting a bad review from Maximum Rock and Roll for including too much Foucault and Baudrillard in my zine. They were probably right, but there was something liberating for me in seeing a strange continuity between zine rants and the polemics of theory. In the very least it made me think of writing as something everyone can and should do. Two, I actually like the cartoons. 

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