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don’t wait

June 24, 2010

I live 6 blocks from the house where Marshall McLuhan spent the first 6 or 7 years of his life. In his adult life, McLuhan was know for his influence on communications theory, and he came up with some well known phrases such as “global village” and “the medium is the message”. Whenever I hear the phrase “global village” I also think of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” and I’m also reminded of that saying, “every village has an idiot”. Sometimes I think that the global village is raising a lot of idiots. But before I get distracted expounding on my thoughts about parenting, social deviants, and the folly of unrestricted capitalism, I should tell you how I think “the medium is the message” relates to the Art of Waiting and another cool project I discovered last month.

Try to think about the opposite of “waiting”. What comes to mind? As a parent (and former child), I think of a few phrases that I’ve impatiently exclaimed (or heard quite emphatically): “hurry”, “get a move on”, “get the lead out”, “get your butt in gear”, “shake a leg”, “hustle”. That’s right. Hustle. To proceed or work rapidly or energetically. To jostle or shove. To urge, prod, or speed up.

If you’re gifted at shifting comfortably between the details and the bigger picture in any given context, you probably have no problem seeing what attracted me to the inaugural issue of 48HR Magazine: a suitable pairing of concept and process within an environment of collaboration. Is it any surprise for that, after spending over half a year working on a collaboration centred on the art of waiting, that the idea of a collaboration centred on the art of the hustle got my attention?

48 HR Magazine took its name from the length of time it took to go from announcing a theme to being ready to print. That’s right, 48 hours. 2 days. 1 sleepless weekend. Here’s a snippet from their site:

Here’s how it works: Issue Zero begins May 7th. We’ll unveil a theme and you’ll have 24 hours to produce and submit your work. We’ll take the next 24 to snip, mash and gild it. The end results will be a shiny website and a beautiful glossy paper magazine, delivered right to your old-fashioned mailbox. We promise it will be insane. Better yet, it might even work.

I’d say it worked. I received my copy in my mailbox, printed on demand just for me, mere weeks after the theme was announced. I quickly devoured it, cover to cover, and then sat back to take a deep breath and ponder what had just happened.

48HR Magazine, Issue Zero, uses the theme “HUSTLE” to compile 60 pages of highly readable – despite the hurried process – fact, fiction, illustration, and photography. The hustled subjects include con artists, dance moves, extreme sports, base stealing, medical testing, barn billboards, infographics, Lady Gaga, tourist traps, paper playsets, “how to” guides, scientific hoaxes, snake oil, salesman, poetry, @shitmydadsays, phishing, telephone solicitation, resume padding, gold digging, ticket scalpers, NASCAR racing, tight pants, prostitutes, dine and dash, BP, potato farming, assassins for hire, molasses candy, native americans, public transportation, Sarah Palin, and toilet paper.

The creators raced to pull together a spread about racing, hustled to graphically depict a hustler, embarked on a mad dash to expound on mad dashers. Their form followed their function; much like pondering the concept of “waiting” by…waiting. What better way to communicate a theme than to incorporate the theme into the process itself. Sometimes the medium is the message even if McLuhan and I aren’t on the same page on what that actually means.

While the pairing of the theme and the process was seamless and edifying, I have hard time imagining what the creators might choose as an appropriate theme for Issue One. Would any other theme be as fitting for the 48 hour process?  Maybe they would consider the other side of the coin and explore the time-tested art of waiting…

By the time I post this, 48 HR Hustle won’t be available for much more than 48 hours; they stop selling on June 27 at 11:59:59 Pacific Time (48 days after it went on sale).
Do yourself I favour and pick up a copy; I wouldn’t wait for this one.

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