Me and Him have been devouring the stack of zines* I picked up at the Manchester Zinefest on the weekend. Reading the zines, all produced by women (the purpose of going to the fest was to research for Subtext, hence the women focussed zine buying) I’ve been inspired again to take Subtext to the masses. I’ve also been inspired by the zine creators soul baring.
Soul baring, and talking about oneself is often termed ‘navel gazing’ in the blogging community – yet these zines are some of the most interesting and inspirations, so are navel gazing blogs. For a lot of people I think navel gazing has negative connotations, however I think it’s one of the most interesting and inspiring aspects of blogging – being able to relate to the writer, sharing thoughts and ideas, a personal form of expression, catharsis.
The zinefest also encouraged me to think about blogging in terms of zines. Are blogs the equivalent of techno zines? They can be created by anyone, they’re about anything, they often renounce state copyright laws. They’re free. People blog because they feel compelled for some reason to do so.
How then do blogs compare to zines, are they a better form of self publishing? Well, blogs cost nothing to set up, they are distributed to anyone who wants to search for them. Networking among bloggers is far quicker and easier. The internet allows people from all over the world to access your thoughts and ideas, not just people in your local region or people who go to the right places (they’re often sold in coffee shops or via distribution networks). Blogs can be updated instantaneously with new ideas and thoughts relating to right now. Feedback, ideas and discussion grow much faster in the blogging world than would ever be possible through zines.
However I’m a lover of the printed word. I like to hold my reading material in my hand, take it with me, share it with friends. Blogs can’t be read in the bath, or in bed. Unless you’re a tip-top-techy you can’t read them on the train. You can’t leave your blog in a coffee shop for the next customer to pick up and browse. For those of us who are technically challenged, zines allow for much greater expression of creativity through layout, colour, font and images. They can change page by page. This also lends a personal quality to zines that’s had to recreate via blogs.
Zines then offer a personal touch, allow greater creativity and can be taken with you wherever you go. It’s much more difficult for blogs to achieve these things. However blogs are instant, ideas are fresh, feedback and ideas take on a life of their own as they spread through the blogging community.
I’m a sucker for old-timey things, and will always cherish a zine that can be held in my hands or stored on my bookshelf. Blogs are more transient, their ideas more difficult to look back at. The writing in both, though, I believe is a gift.
*zines are home made, home photocopied, self distributed ‘scene’ magazines, usually closely related to the punk and anarcho-punk movement, but not exclusively. They can be written/drawn/created by anyone or any group inspired to do so. They can be about anything and everything. They often offer their work to the public domain (renouncing their copyright ownership). Sometimes they’re free, sometimes they’re a couple of pounds.