It’s an interesting phenomenon we’re starting to see in a lot of tech and creative circles: what can you build in a weekend?
Charity event 24theWeb creates websites for charities who can’t afford them in 24 hours.
StartupWeekend gets developers and designers together for a weekend to share ideas, build technology and launch start-ups.
Ireland’s 24 Hour Universal Design Challenge creates inclusive design solutions to produce usable environments, buildings and products.
And now in magazines as well, we’re seeing some really fascinating experiments in “what can we publish, given a finite amount of time?”
Longshot has now created two issues of its 48-hour magazine. The second issue, published in July 2011 was created between noon July 29th, 2011 and noon July 31st, 2011. Its theme was “Debt”, and you can read a web version here: http://two.longshotmag.com/ or order from MagCloud if you want a print copy.
The Atlantic has a great article about the methods and tools Longshot used to create their magazine so fast: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/07/the-almost-free-toolkit-we-use-to-make-longshot-magazine/242750/. In the article, Alexis Madrigal (who is both a founder of Longshot & a senior editor at The Atlantic) describes how they worked with thousands of people around the world who contributed content and managed things with free tools like Google Docs and Google Forms, raised money via Kickstarter, and posted updates to fans via Twitter, Tumblr and Google+.
Combining content from thousands of contributors, paring it down to the best of the best, editing and laying it out is no small feat. Doing it in a weekend is quite impressive. Unless you want to do it in a day…
If 48 hours just seems a little too laid back for you, 24HourMagazine was conceptualized, produced and printed all in a single day with the motto, “1 day. 1 magazine. Start to finish. Scratch to print.”
Founders Tuffer Harris and Sam Mulkay, along with volunteers, created 24HourMagazine in a 24 hour period including topics on fashion, design, music, and lifestyle. The endeavour resulted in a 47-page magazine with no advertisements using a system called Issuu. During the short project, they allowed viewers to check in on progress via photo and video feeds as well as blog and Twitter updates.
Unfortunately it looks like the website is no longer active. However, Cool Hunting has some screen shots of what the completed magazine looked like, and it’s quite beautiful indeed: http://www.coolhunting.com/culture/24-hour-magazin.php.
“Okay,” you’re thinking. “Now this is just getting ridiculous.” Fear not: 16HOURS is not what you might expect given the above magazines. 16 Hours, as the website states, “is the time difference between Calgary, Canada and Sydney, Australia”, which is where the two designing founders of the magazine live.
16HOURS currently has three issues available, and their website mentions that they’ll be open to accept Instagram submissions for their next issue starting February 16th. So it seems the next issue could be just around the corner. Follow them on Twitter to stay up-to-date.
Like Longshot, you can purchase 16HOURS print or digital editions on the MagCloud site. Issues include content from artists all over the world and based on the previews on the site and on MagCloud, they are beautifully designed.
WHAT’S THE POINT?
We often argue that we need more time, that we don’t have enough time, that our work would have been better if we had more time. But there is a need for deadlines, and restrictions have their place. Having unlimited resources, budget, and time may sound like a dream project, but with no goal post it can be tough to focus. Constraints force us to focus on the goal. The tougher the restrictions, the more creative we have to be.
Here’s an exercise to demonstrate the power of constraints:
- Pick one task you need to do this week: a blog post, a chapter of a book, something you’re cooking, some photos you have to edit, something that requires more creativity or thought than “dropping off the recycling” or “buying groceries.” (On the other hand, if you needed to save time, you could try ordering groceries online instead and see how it works out for you!)
- For whatever activity you choose, guesstimate how long it will take you. Give yourself half of that time to finish it. Impossible? See what happens.
- Pick another task & give yourself 25% of the time you think you need to finish it. I take no responsibility, however, if you attempt to cook a chicken in 30 minutes and make yourself sick.
One way this sometimes works for me is that I just get it done. An article I think will take me 5–6 hours and I only have 2? It’s got to be more focused, so I spend more time up front outlining what I need to write. Whereas usually when I have more time, I go slowly, letting any semi-related thought into an early draft, only to be edited out later.
Another thing that happens is that I don’t get it all done. I sat down to edit all ten billion of my photos from India tonight, and I only made it through 3 days of the trip. Oh well. But still: I made it through three days & I can share those with friends & family, versus before when I was waiting until I happened to have a spare eight hours. A spare eight hours does not accidentally happen, at least not to me. So now, instead of endlessly postponing a task & feeling guilty about it, I have some amount of progress, however small. A dent is a dent.
Websites can be designed & built in 24 hours. Design challenges to improve cities can be attacked in a weekend. A magazine can be produced in 48 hours or on opposite sides of the world. Whatever constraints are facing you are offering focus. Instead of assuming they’re hindering you, remember they’re there to help you progress.