Modern Media

I was out at a "policy" dinner this evening, and on coming home realized how much I was enjoying talking with my wife -- and after she conked off, narcotized by my fascinating chitchat, how much I was enjoying looking through some actual, physical magazines. The ones that happened to be on hand tonight were:

- The Atlantic (subscribe!), with great articles on everything;

- Cirrus Pilot, ditto (I won't say subscribe; rather, Learn to fly!);

- Smithsonian, with a great article about the unbelievable MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, in Tasmania, which I visited a few weeks ago and will be writing about soon; and

- the New York Review of Books, with an aforementioned strong article on Big Science, and very good one by Michael Tomasky on Samuel Popkin's very good new book, etc.

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This was today's harvest; other magazines -- New Yorker, Technology Review, Wired, etc -- show up during the month.

I bow to no one in my loyalty to digital media. Our household has two iPads, two Kindles, and a nook. They are the future, and for traveling they can't be beat.

But I am reminded that five centuries' worth of ergonomic advancements in laying out printed material have not been overturned in one decade. There is still something very nice about the look, feel, and impression on the eye, the senses, and the memory of a well designed physical magazine, or book.

That is all.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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