Analog Sea Review

A former New Escapologist subscriber sent me a very nice letter this week. Among other things, he explains that he recently set up a print journal of his own.

It’s called Analog Sea Review and it offers willfully-offline fingerfood: literary essays and excerpts on philosophy, nature, and living well. Escapological topics essentially.

A pocket-sized and beautifully-typeset hardback, it’s an ideal technology for the Wage Slave who wants to disconnect from her Infinity Device on lunch breaks or while commuting (decolonise your time!); and perhaps also of interest to the escapee who finds that the cables of The Machine are still too present beyond the dayjob.

The Analog Sea team commendably practice what they preach. Their only online presence seems to be a website explaining how to get a copy of their Bulletin (a sample of content along with some lovely paper ephemera and an order form for the Review) by post. No social media.

Their publications are available in an impressive number of reputable independent bookshops across Europe and North America, the list of stockists being something you’d get when requesting a Bulletin.

Here in the future, there’s something eccentric and mysterious about a journal or organisation that is all but completely offline, communicating entirely through bookshops and by Ye Olde Postal Networke, but let’s not forget that this was the norm until relatively recently and that it served us very well.

Anyway, it’s a fun time! Here are some pics of the glorious physical object.

New Escapologist is not motivated to fully forego the Web. But we do have a more personable way to engage with the world beyond social media and that’s our free email newsletter. The February edition is shaping up nicely indeed and you can get in on the action here.

Out of Office

When I press the big red button on the newsletter, sending a digest of this blog (and some additional content) to a thousand or so readers, my phone will start vibrating as twenty or so “Out of Office” messages hit my inbox.

I know there are ways to stop this from happening, to divert such email directly to trash, but I prefer to have a quick look. As a passionate supporter of people being out of their offices by whatever means necessary, you might say I’m a connoisseur of the vacation auto-response.

Reader, I’m pleased to see there’s not a doofus among us. This I can tell because none of your auto-responses are longer than a hand span, none of your signatures are longer than the actual message, and none of you have “I’ll be back on ______” dates from several months or years ago. Truly we are an intellectual lot.

And, by the way, many of you have positions far too responsible to be reading New Escapologist. But I’m glad you do. 😉

On the subject of “OoO” messages, I once received this one from TV’s Alan Partrige:

To: rob@newescapologist.co.uk
From: alan.partridge-bbc@bbc.co.uk

I’m not in the office so both cannot and will not respond to your email. If your email is urgent, perhaps you should have tried calling instead. The very fact you were content to type out your query long hand and settle back to wait for a reply suggests it can wait, even if you’ve put a red exclamation next to your email to make it stand out in my inbox. Won’t wash with me, that.

Is that not a treasure? It should go to Letters of Note really.

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Welcome Home, Peaches.

My friend’s daughter, Caoimhe, has a pet snake called Peaches.

Today we salute Peaches for a daring escape attempt. The little rascal slithered off for four months before turning up again, happy as can be.

Nobody’s sure how she thrived for so long without her heat lamp or a supply of freeze-dried mice. Nor does anyone have know where she’s been.

Welcome home, Peaches.

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“It’s a Living!”

Reader, what are your honest thoughts about automation?

I just got back from buying bread at a local mini-market. All three self-service check-outs were vacant but a woman waited patiently with her shopping behind another customer at the one staffed counter.

As I scanned my items and paid for them, I overheard the woman as she reached the counter say something about self-service machines “putting people out of work.”

This is something I’ve heard many times, as doubtless have you. The thought probably even crossed your mind when you saw your first self-service check-out.

There might be a valid case that these machines and other concessions to automation reduce the potential for important human interaction, but the “putting people out of work” thing surely DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Think about it. You’re saying that labour-saving (and, in this case, queue-busting) solutions should be resisted in favour of people doing work that does not in reality need to be done.

It makes me think of animals being used as household appliances on The Flintstones. Some cement is mixed in the beak of a pelican and he says to camera, “It’s a living!”

Intelligent lifeforms doing what machines can do automatically!

Serving lines of impatient customers in a supermarket–take it from me–certainly felt futile before these machines came along a few years ago; now, since the machines exist, it really is futile.

If we need to create work for people (and we don’t), how about creating work that is useful (in that robots can’t do it yet) or serves to hold back the ecopocalypse, or is pleasant to do, or is at least a little more meaningful than breaking rocks?

OR should we pay intelligent humans with the same internal hardware as Leonardo da Vinci a minimum wage to stand in the corner in case someone needs a convenient hatstand?

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