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My Favo(u)rite magazine extract #2

My Favo(u)rite magazine extract #2

In our second extract from the My Favo(u)rite Magazine publication we’re selling to raise funds for Bob Newman (details here), we share the contribution of British-born designer/editor Patrick Waterhouse, editor-in-chief of Colors.

USA, 1971

I am in Italy, looking at my book shelf. Although most of my worldly belongings, including books and magazines, are boxed up in the UK and South Africa, one magazine of sorts that I do have here is a very well-read copy of the Whole Earth Catalog, which I bought in a junk shop in Johannesburg.

I first came across the Whole Earth Catalog at a family friend’s house where I would stay in the summer as a kid. Despite the fact that it was half-disintegrated and I couldn’t read anything, I was captivated. Only 10 years later did I rediscover it and realize what it really was. There have been 140 issues with many spin-off magazines and supplements. One of its editors would go on to curate Wired, and I think the Whole Earth Catalog has influenced the thinking and approach to many other magazines and publications (including Colors’ idea of having a Yellow Pages section). Steve Jobs once cited it as a precursor to Google. Despite aspiring to be a collection of all human knowledge, the Whole Earth Catalog now illustrates the value of selected information, away from the screen. The opening page of the 1969 edition describes its functions as:

1. Useful as a tool,
2. Relevant to independent education,
3. High quality or low cost,
4. Not already common knowledge,
5. Easily available by mail

As a set of principles, they still sound like a pretty good place to start.

This is one of 88 contributions to My Favo(u)rite Magazine from magaholics across the globe. If you’ve not yet bought a copy its’s still available in our online shop.

Patrick Waterhouse is one of the speakers at The Modern Magazine conference, October 16, London.

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