That sound you hear, of thousands of writers, designers and photographers banging their heads against the wall to the beat of a ticking clock? That's the sound of 48 Hour Magazine, a new publication that aims to go from inspiration to execution in 48 hours and begins....now. Exactly two days from now, 48 Hour will be available to you, the eager public, as a real, printed magazine (and as a Web site, too, of course, don't be silly).
The "raucous experiment in using new tools to erase media's old limits" was dreamed up by a small group of San Francisco writers, editors, designers, and programmers, but since the site went live a few weeks ago they have been joined by an interest list of over 6,000 people from all over the world. That mailing list has, as of 12:00 p.m. PST, been notified of the theme: Hustle. The contributors now have 28 hours (yep, they get a whole four extra hours!) in which to report, draw, write, shoot, fact-check, and submit their pieces to the editorial team, who will have the next 24 hours to select which pieces will populate the pages of an (ideally) 48-page magazine. The magazine will ship Sunday at noon, and copies will be available via the print-on-demand service MagCloud.
Why "hustle"? 48 Hour editor Sarah Rich, a former Dwell editor, says the group chose the word because it was both broad and direct. "Hustle evokes the honest, relentless worker striving to get ahead in the world," she says. "It also connotes the swindler who rises to the top through the art of deception. It's both a virtue and a con—two sides of the same coin—and it always implies tenacity and wit." Of course, the meaning of the word as it applies to the process of producing a magazine in an ungodly time period is not lost on them either.
As far as what kind of content they're looking for, the editors are wide open to formats from war reporting to recipes. "We hope people will run in all directions with the word and come back with surprising interpretations," says Rich, pointing to a series of inspirations they've already posted on the site's blog. "We've shed light on many different ways of looking at hustle, but there are hundreds more, so we're waiting to have our minds blown by the thousands of people who've taken up the challenge."
48 Hour will also be testing an innovative advertising model: All incoming funds will be tracked via Spot.us, and the editors plan to divvy up the proceeds among contributors. So far, Chicago-based Coudal Partners has signed up to advertise their creative-favorite notebooks Field Notes. Coudal gave us an exclusive look at their two full page print ads, for which they paid—according to Spot.us—$1500. Jim Coudal tells me that advertising in the magazine was a perfect fit for the brand, who has ironically never advertised its printed product in a printed publication before. "The whole idea of putting together a magazine in two days appealed to us at Field Notes because our memo books are all about getting ideas and images into paper quickly, too."
For those of you who don't envision yourself as hustlers but still want to join in the fun, there is another option. The brave editorial team—who will be working for two days straight at the offices of Mother Jones—has a Ustream channel set up to find out what happens when magazine staffers stop being polite and start getting real. I'd say tune in about 11:45 PST Sunday morning for the best entertainment.
Now enough with this blog post, I've got a story to write—I've already wasted 15 minutes!