OFFSCREEN: Old-fashioned innovation

By S.J. Purcell. April 9, 2012

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At the heart of every great innovation is that essential human element, the creative spark. It is comforting to remember that, in the age of algorithms and artificial intelligence, this intrinsically human aspect of design cannot be replaced or replicated. Why? Because true innovation comes from life; it comes from a need for something that does not exist, or only exists in an unsuitable form.

This need can only be identified by the chaotic nature of experience: you are not aware of the need for something until a situation naturally arises that highlights a lack, or incongruity of available products or solutions. In other words, true innovation cannot exist in a vacuum. It requires all the input and analysis of a person living life. This process cannot be recreated via conditional programming and mechanical decision-making. Furthermore, once a person has identified a need for innovation, the end result of that innovation (the product, service, etc.) will also reflect that person’s experiences: what do they like; what do they know; who are they as a person. Innovation is one of the most fundamentally human of all endeavours, and should be recognised as such.

One magazine seeking to emphasise this is Offscreen. As the name suggests, Offscreen is a high-quality, print-only magazine. It is painstakingly produced by Melbourne resident Kai Brach three-to-four times a year, celebrating the people behind successful websites and apps, telling “the less obvious human stories of creativity, passion and hard work that hide behind every interface”. Each issue is made up of a handful of in-depth interviews, exploring these innovators’ professional and personal lives, finding out what inspires and motivates them, portraying the human face of innovation within the digital design industry. Being exclusively available in a tangible printed format, Offscreen forces readers to step away from the computer screen for a while, perhaps reading the magazine in a social setting, such as a coffee shop or park. In having the reader view the magazine offline, Brach also reinforces his magazine’s aim: to see digital design in a more human light. 

Innovation does not require technology: innovation requires humanity. Offscreen appears to be one of the few magazines helping remind us of this fact.  

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