This is an editor’s note. It’s an introduction to an issue where you’re expected to talk a bit about the making of the magazine and add some thoughts about the current state of affairs (in fashion, in culture, in politics).
As this is also the 20-year anniversary issue of Bon Magazine, I would be expected to reminisce about the past, look back, maybe highlight some of the best articles or images. I would talk about what has made Bon special over the years. But is anything special these days? Perhaps some things still are. And yet, the overwhelming feeling in this present is an over-saturation of everything: of stuff, of images, of opinions, of must-read pieces, of news, of politics, of viral videos, of new apps, of productivity programmes, of diets, of activism pledges, of clothes, of tech.
To be free, you have to turn off.
But when you turn off, you become obsolete.
So, you turn on again.
Because you have to. You have to be here, in this present, and you’re not allowed to be annoyed or scared, or hateful, of the over-saturated world, because if you are, you’re not only
obsolete, you’re bitter and sad.
Why do we call this issue Beyond the Algorithm? What would you say if I told you the working title was After the Algorithm? Maybe we hate the algorithms that try to show us what they think we want to pay attention to.
You know there’s a school of thought that thinks all tech is good. And there’s another school of thought that’s always sceptical of new technology. Neither school can escape the fact that we’re
living in this present and it’s this present that we have to work with. You can’t close Pandora’s box again, and you can’t deny that it has been opened.
What concerns us, the community that has made this issue of Bon, is the ability to be creative in an unrestrained way. Creativity itself suffers when we know that certain images or articles won’t receive attention because they are not “likeable” or “clickable”.
This is not about wanting to slow things down, it’s about immensely powerful corporations creating algorithms and environments that are really about keeping our attention. Because attention can be converted into money.
We also question a state of affairs where you’re given what you want. I’m looking at culture consumption today and the basic idea is “you seemed to like this, here’s more of the same thing”. Any serendipity is erased from our lives. Music discovery is transformed into suggestions based on what you already love. Going out to eat is about Eater lists and Google reviews. We check boxes instead of discovering a city by chance.
I’m a curious person and I love to discover new platforms, apps, music, fashion, places or food. I’m optimistic rather than pessimistic. I love a good list with great recommendations. I just don’t like that nagging feeling of manipulation and streamlining that’s in the air. Hence Beyond the Algorithm rather than After the Algorithm.
What this issue of Bon is – and I’m not sure it should be called an issue – is a choice.
We didn’t want to do 800 pages of everything but the kitchen sink. We wanted 10 chapters, no more, no less. We wanted a limited, contained publication with no fillers. Here, I’m extending a big thank you to everyone who contributed, no matter how big or small.
For 20 years of Bon covers, turn to the next page.
But that’s as far as this anniversary goes (in this publication at least). An acknowledgment that what has been, has been. A short moment of pride.
Consider this the closing chapter for what came before, rather than an opening one of this issue.
This is the editor’s note from our print issue Bon – Beyond the Algorithm.