The Non-Expert

Credit: Jennifer Daniel for TMN

Publishing Is Toast

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week, a reader wonders about TMN’s vision of the future of publishing.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


Question: I had been unaware of your magazine until recently, when, over the previous weekend, my son showed it to me on his laptop as an example of internet publishing. I am interested in knowing if you envision the future of publishing to consist of publications like yours. If so, what will it resemble? A toaster with a mouse?

Sincerely yours, This Morning’s Schmooze, with a chuckle,
David Shore

Answer: Mr. Shore. David. Dave. Thank you for your inquiry. Before we go any further with this missive, our white-suited team of crack Southern lawyers wants to know whether you or your son has, willingly or unwillingly, ever been in breach of sub-section 680.686 of the 1968 Corporate Espionage and Industrial Borrowing Act (Disney Futurama revision 2A, 1976)?

We must warn you both that if we should retrospectively discover that any violation of 680.686 has taken place we will have no choice but to hand you over to the authorities.

Now. The future. As a regular reader—or “content consumer” as we like to call them round here—you’ll know that our motto here at TMN has always been “think ahead.” That’s why your communication caused our already arched eyebrows to elevate some more. You see, the “toaster with a mouse” prototype you so playfully allude to is a chillingly accurate description of our next-generation technology. And that’s putting it mildly.

We like our secrets. In the spirit of full disclosure, you will appreciate that we can’t really tell you anything of substance, but when this kind of shit goes down, someone’s got to take a fall. Guys down in R&D are still weeping and HR hasn’t even had the chance to question their families. That will come.

But you’re ahead of the game, aren’t you Mr. Shore? Or should we just call you Dave? We were a little bit economical with the truth back in Paragraph 1. You see, we’ve had to notify the authorities, just to be sure. The cleanup team will be arriving chez Shore in 30 minutes. Please do not resist arrest.

The clean-up team will be arriving chez Shore in 30 minutes. Please do not resist arrest.You no doubt know all this already, but change is coming. Over the years, and thanks to countless millions from our friends at RAND, DARPA, and PARC (all of whom, like you, appreciate a twice-daily infusion of well-sifted links, the occasional clever-clever parody, incisive social commentary, unexpurgated interviews, and snappy, buttoned-down writing by the young lions of the new American literary generation), we’ve developed what we feel is a pretty epoch-defining, genre-busting, category-creating, competition-killing, and game-changing way of getting our words to our readers.

Toast. That’s right. We were as surprised as you when the results came in. It turns out that of all the technologies on the market, in development and still gestating in their creators’ brains, it is toast that has the most impressive resolution, tactility, familiarity, cultural resonance, image depth, and multi-million color capacity. That’s why TMN 3.0, when it eventually emerges from our underground labs, will be exclusively available on toast, and no other format whatsoever.

Your prescience is uncanny, if rather ill-advised. There’s more, of course (but you already know that). It also transpires that while toast in itself is near perfect for the delivery of richly colored, multi-grained content, many of our readers will need some way of navigating the medium. That’s why when we read your question, we nearly took a collective tumble off our high-backed, multi-axis-adjustable, breathable mesh, pleather-trimmed office chairs. It’s why we had to dial the special hotline right away. Yup, Dave, you got it again. We will indeed be attaching a mouse to the toaster.

Thank you again for your “question.” Maybe next time you’ll think twice before trying to second-guess us? Twenty-five minutes to go, Mr. Shore. It breaks our hearts to lose readers this way, but technology is a means to an end and we must not be stopped.

Good night.


TMN Contributing Writer Jonathan Bell lives in South London. He co-edits Things Magazine and likes to write about architecture. More by Jonathan Bell