Craig Mod on the revival of print and why it’s important to go offline

Oh boy, where to begin with Craig Mod’s interview with Offscreen Magazine. I’ve been following Craig’s work for a long time, so I have an undeniable bias towards everything he does. But some of the things he says in this interview touched a deep nerve for me, as it relates to a lot of what I’ve been thinking about lately.

It’s a long interview, and you should absolutely take the time to read it all. I’ll just post a couple of my favorite quotes here.

On the revival of print and other analog technologies:

I think books are the perfect disconnected objects. They require no energy. They offer a fully immersive, quiet experience for hours or days. The medium dissolves but never becomes translucent. It’s quiet, but present. An exceptional technology.

When you sit down with a book, you understand the parameters of engagement. You know how long the book is. The book isn’t changing as you read it. It’s a solid, immutable thing. You and the book are on equal terms in many ways, as least from a physics point of view. You know what’s going to happen, and the book abides by its implicit contract, which is to be a book.

However, in digital-land many spaces (apps, games) quickly turn into slithering creatures beneath your feet. You never know where you stand. Their worlds are optimized to pull you back in for one more minute, one more click. Over and over. Cascades of chemical reactions in your noggin’ tell you to keep going, just one more hit; I feel this persona of the addict very strongly when I am online or using certain apps or devices.

On your life’s work and what moves you:

Does affecting one hundred lives turn you on? A thousand? A million? A billion? Why? What does it mean to have a positive impact on a life? How intimate does that connection need to be? Understanding your scale — the scale that moves you — is critical to understanding with whom and how you should work, how you should live.

On always being online:

The default expectation today is “always available.” The systems we created are so frictionless that we haven’t noticed how insidiously over-engaged we are. Step by step we’re optimizing ourselves to “maximum” productivity without defining or thinking about “productivity” on a human scale. The digital world abstracts. One could argue most problems contemporary society faces are problems of over-abstraction. As an employer with a global workforce, you have no idea where your employees might be or what they might be doing, so you expect them to answer immediately. The concept of downtime is elusive.

And finally, on “edges”, a topic he’s written about a lot:

Edges ground us. Without clear edges we don’t feel like we’re in control.

Craig Mod - Offscreen Magazine Interview