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Home > Magazine > Culture > A Rant on Zines ... at the Big U

A Rant on Zines ... at the Big U
February 05, 2004

I just got to give a speech all about zines and print media and how the Net has impacted them at MSU today for 300 kids in a class at the Journalism Dept! I haven't talked in public in 10 years, and never to a big auditorium, like, with a mic. An MSU professor heard that I did both books and websites and asked if I would give a talk. Since I wasn't interested or prepared, I said Yeah, sure! --Gotta try new things.

It's in the spirit of the Net to share. The Net doesn't say to worry about how you look, but to give if you can. I told the kids that that was one way the Net has influenced me already.

I flashed my OYB website on the big screen, and showed them Jack Saunders webpage, too. It was wacky and I was nervous and rattled, but kept rolling.

One kid before class came up and said "Check it out" and he had a copy of my zine in his backpack. Rock the youth, man!

I showed them my bumperstickers, too. I was even a little shocked myself to see "Corporations aren't your friend" up there on the big screen, via the PowerPoint internet whats-it connection that I was fiddling with.

I bet that they'd never heard about zines in a serious academic way before. I told them how homebrew publishers and websters can add to knowledge and scholarship, they can contribute and participate, without asking permission...without a degree. They liked that.

I said the press is free to the guy who owns one or who pays your wage. I said it was interesting how when a Net expert got hired by some media or biz in his area of interest that suddenly he dropped from view, his webpage got taken down, he stopped contributing to public forums. Coz the new boss now owned his ass and his press weren't free no more.

I told them I got out of my pajamas just to come down and see them. And that I was a specimen of the new Net-worker cave-dweller, that they might turn into if they weren't careful. They laughed, they asked questions.

Sometimes I like doing things when I have no idea what I'm doing.... Actually that seems like how I always operate. I learn as I go. Here's how it worked for me.... When I wrote up my notes for my talk I realized that I got into computers before they were big, got into the small press before that boom hit, into zining before zining hit, and into the Net before the Net got big. And I never knew what I was doing. There was no known minimum competence beside making something that worked. Today kids can look at the existing career of web design and maybe see that they're very good at it in a specialized way. I only made my webpages coz I had to, coz the technology potential and opportunity showed up.

I got emails afterwards from kids saying thanks and asking advice. You gotta hit the ground running, man! If they give you an inch, take a mile. I think the lady professor wants me to do a book for her and make a website for it and sign her up to Amazon.... She was getting a little worked up, I could tell.

Anyway, I figured I should start sticking my head out more these days. First bumperstickers, now college lecturing.... Where will it lead? Hooo-eeee!

PS: I heard that they had a question about my lecture on their midterm exam. Darn right, pay attention, slackers!

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