Yes, we find ourselves in the same fix as Condé Nast, wondering how to encourage readers to pay for content we give away (only without resorting to the strong-arm tactics of subscription apps). It’s a tough sell. Short of emulating the Whole Earth Catalog by running a tally of expenses on our website, it’s hardly obvious how to convey a magazine’s hard costs to a readership so accustomed to regarding information accessed online as part of the commons.
It’s easy to get sidetracked—what with the analytics, the noise, the chatter from friends, the applications to funders, the freelance inquiries. This essay has made clear that Triple Canopy has definitely changed since we launched in 2008, in ways both subtle and substantial. You could say that’s typical of any start-up, but you could also diagnose it as a peculiar strain of technological determinism: Our organizational structure, you see, matches the internet’s. As Galloway explains, the internet is governed by two contradictory logics, one rigidly vertical (Domain Name System, or DNS), the other radically horizontal (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP). Likewise, Triple Canopy has a standard-looking (i.e., hierarchical) masthead, yet in practice we work in a decentralized, networked fashion, with clusters of editors collaborating on the individual projects (or nodes) that together comprise the magazine; those higher up on the masthead have committed more hours per week to Triple Canopy and as a result tend to be involved in more nodes. We enjoy this manner of working, but certainly an organization with no fixed center is susceptible to drift. Without vigilance, Triple Canopy could fall victim to neoliberalism’s imperative of infinite flexibility. This week a magazine, next week a design firm, or a curatorial initiative, or a murkily defined “consultancy.” Maybe our appropriated name will finally cause sufficient brand confusion, and we’ll find ourselves seriously considering a misdirected request for “logistical support” and a junket flight to Kandahar. The internet is a market for new identities: some you purchase, others are foisted on you.
Plus lots of insights about the Internet and online publishing, check it out!