October 23, 2001
I've got the same job but I've noticed my attention waning from some of my monthly magazines. In response, I've started to let some of the subscriptions lapse.
The first one to go is Shift.
The first time I bought Shift Magazine was way back when it covered cultural issues and featured (get this) authors like John and Douglas Coupland on the cover. My favourite issue was from Winter 1994 that had a picture of Scott Thompson ("the gay guy from Kids in the Hall") making muscle-man poses on a winter beach wearing nothing but Depends UndergarmentsTM ("Oh, I can control my bladder. I just choose not to") for the first annual "Canadian Swimsuit Issue".
But then the whole Internet thing happened and then it wasn't Culture that Shift covered but New Media and Culture and then digital culture.
What is digital culture?
Well in the November 2001 issue of Shift... sorry.. in issue v9.5 of Shift, there's the 4th Annual Guide to Videogames.
It's been a long time since I cared about Shift magazine and I distinctfully that moment when my interest was lost. It was that precise moment when the magazine stopped interviewing people and started packaging their articles into Top Ten lists and Annual Guides. When it took on a voice of authority, I stopped thinking of it as a peer.
I flip the latest issue in front of me half-heartedly. I hate the vast amounts of white space used. I can't stand the nostalgia for videogames past. And most of the writing is just so boring.
For example, the issue's feature article "Unplugged: 7 days without technology" is one of the most half-assed, flippant articles I have read in any magazine recently.
It's an old gimmick: 1) writer swears off technology for a discrete amount of time 2) writer keeps account of the pains of withdrawal 3) writer gets used to the change or comes to some sort of epiphany about modern technology.
Mathew McKinnon in Shift tweaks the formula slightly: 1) writer pledges seven days without technology 2) writer complains and counts down the days until technology returns 3) writer reads books about and by Luddites which he concludes are as useless as the seven day exercise he is undertaking 4) writer goes back to mp3s and videogames
The only saving grace of the issue is the descriptive account of "hacker conference" DEF CON 9 called "a misunderstood subculture, a vegas resort, and lots of black t-shirts, laptops and booze."
So, until the Annual Canadian Swimsuit Issue returns, it is return to sender for Shift Magazine.