December 18th, 2007 | brainjuice
Here’s an idea I float out there every couple of years. Was talking to Eliza earlier and it came back to me:
Years back, I stole a term from Bruce Sterling, “ideological freeware” — this predated Creative Commons — and applied it to the notion of web distribution of printed matter.
We were talking in terms of the dearth of good writing about comics, at the time. Simply put, one could create a small magazine about comics and format it for cheap copying in black and white, and free it so anyone could print off copies. And then put it in comics stores. Viral distribution from pixel to print. SAVANT was the one that took up the entire idea, and the first twenty or so numbers of that were fireworks. (I’m talking specifically about web-to-print here, rather than the mags where the PDF was the end result, not the intermediate form. BORDERLINE was the one that did that form best in comics, I think.) Anyway, I covered all this in a column at the time.
What occurred to me after that, that I don’t think anyone picked up, was the broadside format. The single sheet.
The broadside has a centuries-long history as a device for disseminating news and ideas. I mean, flyers go up on the web to be printed off, sure. But it’s not quite the same thing. Getting an idea, or a piece of writing, on a single sheet and saying, yes, print this off, copy it and distribute it wherever you like — that’d be interesting. In web terms, the costs are tiny — host the image on a free hosting site if you’re worried about the bandwidth hit. Use Livejournal or Blogger for the whole thing.