The Great Discontent Issue One - First Look

I was eager to back the Kickstarter campaign for the first physical issue of The Great Discontent back in early February. The investment paid off on Thursday afternoon when I picked up my copy from the mailroom.

I’ve already spent some hours reading the beginning pieces, and I can tell the rest will be just as enjoyable. I just want to put down some initial thoughts on the makeup of the magazine (book?) and its internal formatting styles.

As the content is coming from a purely digital environment on The Great Discontent website, I was especially interested in how they (creators Ryan & Tine Essmaker) would tackle integrating what are essential parts of their pieces - the online references. The links within articles on The Great Discontent (TGD) not only provide after-reading morsels or off-shoots of product. They provide important contextual evidence and information about the interviewees and their environment.

Issue One of The Great Discontent, front cover

I’ve seen some publications take ugly approaches of fully-typed links or even large, intrusive QR-codes to bring the web to the printed pages. In this first issue of TGD, I really enjoy the happy medium they’ve chosen.

Links and footnotes are treated equally and in the same manner, with numerical markers are printed in a different color (cyan) and pulled down and to the side of the prose. The anchor text (or, what it would be if you read the article online) still have a remnant underline effect, which is a nice, familiar touch to denote their difference.

Links consisting of a simple domain name are left intact, but anything longer is shortened to a custom URL on the TGD domain. The links have deliberate word choice to indicate content and to keep them memorable. The written links may require you to do some typing, but it means that I can visit the link just as easily on whatever device I have on me.

The writing layout is definitely magazine-style: columns and pull-quotes add flair and bring attention nicely, but the design language has been nicely translated between the print and new website theme. I would surmise that this printing heavily influences the new website, and not the other way around.

I would highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this first issue, if only to see this attribution style. I think that we are seeing more publications spring back into print for special pieces, so it will be interesting to experience differing techniques in translating the online affordances to the printed page. In this edition from The Great Discontent, I’ve been thoroughly impressed.

Issue One of The Great Discontent, back cover