Editors' Letter: Lost & Found

Bitch's relationship with that crazy series of tubes known as the Internet has been marked by emotions ranging from mild curiosity to passionate indifference. The magazine was born in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was also ground zero for much web- related hoopla—Wired, Yahoo!, and the short-lived Future Sex magazine, among other entities. From a zeitgeist perspective, our little paper zine was in exactly the right place at exactly the wrong time.

Back then, publishing was posited as either/or: Either you were web-only, and therefore awesome, or you were print-only, and therefore some kind of hippie Luddite. These days, there seems to be more fluidity; it's a "both, and" kind of situation. Which we appreciate, as it has allowed us to work on overhauling our own website at a rather leisurely pace while reassuring people that Bitch is not totally late to the party that's been in full keg-tapping swing for several years. All this is to say: Get ready for more Bitch over the next few months, as we relaunch the Bitch site with blogs, daily content, and all the Web 2.0 bells and whistles our teeny-tiny budget can buy.

Everyone at Bitch loves print for all the usual reasons. Magazines are tangible, portable, and pretty; plus, they can conceivably last forever (as long as the acid-free paper holds out, at least), which is nice for those of us with a slight hoarding problem. And so we cannot deny that, when the End of Print failed to materialize at the end of the 1990s, we felt gleefully vindicated. But as many of you are doubtless sick of hearing us say, times have gotten worse for magazines lately, particularly those with a social bent. And in keeping with the theme of this issue, we're holding a eulogy for a bunch of our favorites—many of which, like Bitch, started up in print well after the rise of the web, defying trends and delighting readers (page 52). We already miss these magazines—but of course, several live on in web form, which many not-magazine-obsessed people no doubt think is exactly the same. (And to that we ask: Do you keep your laptop in the bathroom? Never mind; we don't need to know.)

Elsewhere on the Lost & Found tip, earlier this year when a writer pitched us to say she wanted to cover the subject of eating disorders within the fat acceptance movement (page 40), we had two immediate thoughts. The first was, "Hmm, intriguing." The second? "This writer might want to consider a pseudonym." Indeed, this may be the first piece in Bitch history to garner reader mail before it was even published. Eating disorders and the societal fear of fat are reliably hot-potato subjects for this magazine, and we're making space right now in the next issue for your letters responding to it. (Or, you know, perhaps we'll run them on our website!)

So read on for these and other tales of losing and finding: one women's improbable embrace of Christian rock (page 86); the return of the j.a.p., that much-reviled stereotype (page 46), and an interview with Susan Faludi (page 34), who influenced many a budding feminist with her book Backlash and whose new work, The Terror Dream, looks at the cultural meanings that were both lost and found in the wake of 9/11. Enjoy them all. —Eds.

Comments

4 comments have been made. Post a comment.

your site is looking great!...

...but I have to take issue with the "either/or" idea that the small publishing world at large, or the Bay Area, circa 1996, saw such a sharp division between online and offline. Beginning in the early 1990s, i was part of that whole scene; I wrote for Mondo 2000, Wired, and the like, was a guest editor and assistant editor for Fringe Ware Review, and was a very short-lived editor at the short-lived magazine you mentioned, Future Sex.

Mondo 2000 and Boing Boing used The WELL as their primary outlets for online presence; both were quite established there when I joined The WELL in 1992. This was before a graphical interface existed to the World Wide Web, so systems like The WELL provided some publications with the means to achieve their the online community-building aspects. Fringe Ware integrated online and offline existence from Day One: we had the Internet's second bookstore, a robust online community mostly based on a popular Listserv but also manifesting on Usenet and on the WELL, a print magazine with a small catalogue in the back, and eventually, a physical bookstore in Austin, Texas.

Wired came along later, but also approached old and new media with gusto. Depending on the day of the week, I might be getting paid for freelance work for Wired's print magazine, from its online counterpart HotWired, from its print book publisher HardWired, or from the online Wired News. If I'm not mistaken, in 1996, the year you mentioned, I was Senior Editor for a Portland monthly "alternative" culture print magazine called Anodyne -- and I was also Anodyne's web producer. We were doing both at once. Bust and Venus have been pretty web-forward for a number of years.

Much of the information on the early Web consisted of repurposed content from print newspapers, magazines, books, and information sources such as phone books. This was before most people had high-bandwidth connections, and "social networking" was mostly confined to Usenet and to BBS-style forums like the WELL and CompuServe, eventually encompassing AOL and Prodigy as well. Because we couldn't all just click around on video all day, repurposed print content was in high demand. Even some of the big corporate players got online and started hiring weirdo 'zine editors and small press writers to make online zines for big bucks.

I for one am delighted and excited to see Bitch amping up its online presence. It's an important occasion. However, I disagree with your assessment of the historical context of publications integrating print and web content.

"Behind the eyes of Oregon girls it was raining in Portland. Somehow it was always raining behind the eyes of Oregon girls." -Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side

I agree that it's more complicated that this, but...

There was a lot that felt very "either/or" back then, most notably the fact that *tons* of people kept asking why we bothered to print in boring old ink on dead trees in the first place, when there was this exciting thing called the world wide web where we could circulate our content for free. The death of print seemed to be on the tip of everyone's tongue (at least in certain circles). I just wanted to add that as the context in which this ed note was written.

Love it!

The new site is bad ass! I'm loving it more each day. I know the tech-wishes are costly and sometimes impossible to make, but I'd love a published-date on the content. That'd be my only suggestion.

Keep up the great (pixel and print) work!

Catherine

< ccole.info >

ccole.info
ccole.info/aflyonthewall

Love the new site

I, too, am enthusiastic about your newfangled online presence. I think this is a great time for you to launch, and you can fully avail yourselves of the social networking aspect, which this new site seems to lean towards. The potential for building online community among your readership here is really fantastic, and I look forward to being a participant.

Best wishes,

Sarah
http://paradoxologies.net

Sarah
paradoxologies.net