Thinking about Maxi

On Active Social Plastic, I wrote about Maxi, the pop culture feminist webzine I co-founded with Janelle Brown, Heather Irwin and Rosemary Pepper in 1997. When we launched, it met with both acclaim and criticism. We were too feminist, we were too lipstick; we changed the tone of women’s media, we helped to build a community of women who are insightful, strong and powerful (and at the center of much of the potential for digital and media culture today).

We ran the project for 2 1/2 years, until Fall 1999. Labors of love are hard. When Maxi died, I regretted it but hadn’t missed it as a project until the A Few Zines panel at Columbia that Mimi put together. It’s made me think about a number of things … but in particular, about the kind of collaborations that the early web engendered (no pun intended). Would we have started it if we were 25 years old today, and if we had, would anyone have noticed? How much would we have pushed boundaries, discovered success, failure, HTML and UNIX and Photoshop?

I’ve not collaborated upon anything like Maxi since we folded, although I had a fierce, collaborative camaraderie with the other four students in my master’s program; we put on a conference and organized a class. We talked about a book but we’ve been too busy to start it (three of us are in Ph.D. programs, two of us are teaching full-time).

The discussions I’ve had about magazines since then, however, revolve around architecture and design culture, around the possibility of creating something published in small runs, 500 copies, with gritty covers–the absolute opposite of a project that could have near infinite distribution. I wonder what that experience would be like.

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