Lessons Unlearned

Zines are the hipster’s powerpoints.

Whatcha mean, what’s a zine? Zines are cheaply made printed forms of expression on any subject.

A zine to explain zines.

I discovered them through Austin Kleon.

Since then, I’ve been using them as a tool for thought, only to discover that…

Yes, zines are handmade, amateur and grungy. They show more enthusiasm than competence. But as Tom Sachs puts it, you can feel the human hand in them. It gives them character and magnetism.

This opposes the aseptic feel of a templated PowerPoint. Devoid of any soul. A tool optimized for serial production of professionally looking docs. The assembly line of the knowledge worker.

Zines require effort, both cognitive and manual. They can only be created at a pace that is deliberate and mindful. Zines are works of love.

I use a form of mini zine. You fold an A4 three times to create a small booklet. Check it out here.

What you get are just a few pages, quite small and always a fixed number of them (eight, to be precise).

Such limiting canvas forces you to carefully consider the content. It has to be concise and it must follow some structure to convey the idea effectively. The mini zine is an elevator pitch with eight stops.

PowerPoints trick you with its boundless features. Add Slide is devaluing. A metaphor of infiniteness and possibility that tempts the creator. The canvas will adjust to the content, not the other way around. Inflation of content, waste generator, a sure way to bloat anything into irrelevance. The heat death of ideas.

Nothing in this life is limitless, specially the attention span of your audience. Constraints give meaning to anything we do; constraints challenge you with arbitrary adversity. Your product is better because of it.

Zines are objects, physical objects that you can hold. You turn their pages, they wear with time. They can tear or get stained. They occupy a space in this world, need to be stored and retrieved, they can get lost.

Handmade tangible objects develop an identity that no digital form can replicate. It’s the drawing of your kid on Father’s Day. They carry significance, they capture a moment in time.

Digital assets, on the other hand, are tears in rain, they will inevitably be lost in time, carried away by the endless stream. Just like this post… willing to make its mark in the world, but inevitably drowning in the depths of your vertical scroll; a spark that briefly shined in existence only to be forgotten.

Time to die.


  1. Doing a circle by hand is damn difficult.

  2. Doing a circle digitally is trivial.

  3. Digitalization separates us from the constraints of our physical reality.

  4. It transports us into a world of platonic ideals.

  5. Democratization of perfection.

  6. But when everyone’s super… nobody is.

  7. We start a race with an unclear finish line.

  8. The more we double down on digitalization, the more we realize perfection is an unreachable horizon.

  9. What we crave is not perfection but significance.

  10. Materialization is a response to digitalization.

  11. Materialization brings us back to the cave we’ve inhabited for so long.

  12. The cave is dirty, frustrating and home.

  13. Materialization restores the problems we grew to solve.

  14. Significance is to be found down here, in the filthy stubborn mud of this world.

  15. Significance is reached past long denied problems.

  16. Significance is earned.


Really? An anti-digitalization rant? From a CIO? You're quickly becoming a cliché.


It’s not anti-digitalization. I just say that material things have something to them. That the more we lean into digital worlds, the more we will appreciate them.


Seems to me like the claim of an affluent first-world privileged dominant guy.


That's probably true. Doesn't make it invalid, though.


I just hope we're not living in a simulation, or someone must be laughing his ass off thanks to you.


I think if we're living in a simulation, that'd support my point.


How so?


Why would anyone introduce so many unnecessary difficulties and handicaps in a simulation this complex?


To give ourselves a path of development and growth, I guess. Make life interesting by introducing obstacles to overcome.


Exactly. Why would you shortcut those in an idealized metaverse then?


Because it’s convenient, removes barriers, and allows us to build a new world that is not constrained by arbitrary rules. It moves us forward.


No. It moves you UP, not forward, beware of your metaphors.


Oh, really? Are you going creationist now? Are we in our very own Tower of Babel? Should God confuse our language now that we’re disputing his world building monopoly?


I don't know why I let you drag me into these stupid arguments time and again.


I guess it's hard to escape a voice in your head.

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