Thursday, October 05, 2006

"fast company" jumped the shark

"Jump the shark" is an expression originally created to identify a moment when a TV show reached its peak, after which everything would be downhill. It refers to an episode of "Happy Days" when Fonzie literally jumps a shark (that must've been something). I'm borrowing that expression to identify a "jump the shark" moment at "Fast Company".
Created in the ’90s to be a voice for the new generation of “free agent” workers, the magazine helped to show a new way of life amid the changing nature of work. Articles such as Alan Webber's "Are You Deciding on Purpose?" (FC 13, Feb/March 1998) showed an alternative, more intelligent, more creative, more intense and personal and yet more balanced and casual way of working and living. People bought in. By issue no. 35, from Aug. 2000, the magazine had swollen to a yellow-pages-like 418 pages! As a magazine junkie myself, I've bought every single issue since January 1998. I devoured the articles about the importance of design, the new working structures, and how creative teams were solving problems in different industries.
But then, the internet bubble burst, and Fast Company, like in a bad case of anorexia, started to get thin. And thin. And by issue no. 92, from March 2005, it had shrunk to 96 pages, less than a quarter of the size from their heydays! But I hadn't given up on the magazine just yet.
Then in late 2005, Fast Company was sold to another publishing company and a new editor, Mark N. Vamos, took over. And then, came the shock.
In his very first "Letter from the editor" (left photo, from the October 2005 issue), Mark N. Vamos, appeared using a bow tie. A bow tie! This was supposed to be the magazine that practically endorsed and validated the "everyday casual day" dress code. And now the editor wears a bow tie? What was he thinking? More recently he’s been sporting a more casual open-collar shirt (right photo, from the September 2006 issue). Somebody must have warned him.
I'm still buying the magazine though. A recent issue brought an interesting article about the emergence of “Aerotropolis”, giant airport-cities, designed to be well-oiled machines to facilitate the flow of people, goods and businesses. That’s fine. I’ll keep buying the magazine as long as it keeps bringing articles such as this (but I'll keep having second thoughts about that bow tie).
It's just a small detail (but then again, maybe it's not).

Webber, Alan W. 1998. Are you deciding on purpose? Fast Company. December/January 1998
Lindsay, Greg. 2006. The rise of aerotropolis. Fast Company. July/August 2006


mz said...

Very well spotted ;)

When I opened the entry and saw the two photos side by side I figured FC was doing different letters for different regions -- but no!

The bowtie is gone! Much worse than censorship!


Nelson said...

Hi mz, thanks for the comment. That would've been even worse (different letters for different regions). I miss their heydays when at 400-plus pages, it took a couple of hours to browse/read the entire magazine (not to mention a lot of patience from my wife as well). ;-)