An Evolution Overlooked
|Title:||An Evolution Overlooked|
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An Evolution Overlooked is an essay by Darren Maxwell.
It was printed in The Captain's Log #200 in March 1994.
The main focus of the essay was Austrek's newsletter, "The Captain's Log" and how production of the zine had changed, The essay encouraged its producers, of which Maxwell was one, to make the newsletter better.
Some Topics Discussed
- zine production
- The Captain's Log, an Australian Star Trek newsletter
- fans and technology
- Austrek, an Australian fan club
- Black Light, an Australian Doctor Who newsletter
Does anyone remember the days of wait... wait for it.... typewriters (oh yuk)? Especially manual typewriters (uh gross)? Can you imagine how a typewritten production looks? Well believe it if you can, they were all like that once upon a time. All through the 1970's and the early part of the 80's, the manual typewriter was responsible for many a fan newsletter. And for most people, more liquid paper than ribbon ink was used, emphasising how important it was to have an editor who could actually type. Newsletters from that era were riddled with faults and inconsistencies simply through the lack of abilities the modern computer world now takes for granted. No right hand justification, no laser printing, no special fonts. It would all be at base level, no glitter, no glamour, all cut and pasted. Most people today would be so put off with the look of these things, that they would refuse to read them. But remember - just because something looks terrible doesn't necessarily mean it is. The writers back then were just as enthusiastic and adventurous as they are today when it came to discussing Star Trek, and the editors equally so. Thus old newsletters, whether they be The Captain's Log or any other, should not be readily discarded without giving them a chance to prove their worth (even if they are an eyesore). After all you could be pleasantly surprised.
Time marches on and so does technology; eventually the manual typewriter made way for the more modern electric one. Big, heavy, bulky things that are perceived as being dinosaurs today, yet at the time they were the state of the art. "What? Just push a button to return the carriage! Far out!" The main advantage of the electric typewriter was obvious, clear, even, defined print, no letters being placed up too high or low, too hard or too soft and some machines even had correction ribbons and interchangeable daisywheels and golf balls. Techo. Yet they were expensive and only the more adventurous and fortunate of editors actually used them, but they did improve the look of a newsletter no end, especially the later models with their liquid crystal display and right hand justification modes. Anyone who could utilise this kind of technology was indeed setting the standard.
Then of course, after the electric typewriter came the computer. Initially the software was of no great advantage to newsletter editors, but what with the coming of Windows and the various packages that stem from that, newsletters reached desk top publishing standard, which is an incredibly far cry from the manual typewriters used not so many years before. Everyone jumped on the computer bandwagon and began turning their publications into something they could be proud of. Yet one person, literally overnight, completely revolutionised computer produced newsletters as we now know them... The Judgement Day came in 1992 with the release of the best newsletter in fandom, Black Light. It was, and still is, the ultimate premium quality fan produced newsletter. Its editor/creator has the best computer technology available and has used it well, so much so that others are now attempting to copy his style and ask for his assistance in producing publications, emphasising just how much computers, scanners and laser printers could enhance this kind of work. Black Light set the standard for others to follow and they were quick to learn.
"So where is The Log amongst all this?" I hear you ask. The Captain's Log has been pretty much at the tail end of newsletter quality throughout the years as far as the bigger newsletters were concerned. As the 1980's rolled into the 90's The Log editors began using computer software to produce their work but the full potential of this technology has never been fully realised. (The Log, however, did leap ahead in quality somewhat when Photon Printers introduced coloured paper and inks in 1991.) Different fonts, some pages right hand justified some not, and things being placed in sideways made it look amateurish and unprofessional as opposed to Sonic Screwdriver who were utilising the advanced Melbourne University computers and were producing very high quality material. Even Data, Astrex's newsletter these days is now being produced semi-professionally so it can actually be sold in stores around Sydney. Over time, all club newsletters have improved, evolving into masterpieces in their own way. Yet The Captain's Log has remained an average publication amongst these other works, despite being at the fore front of ASFMA nominations on many occasions. Editing no-nos were still being committed up until recently and with respect to all The Log editors of the 90's, has been plagued with inconsistencies that really needed to be addressed (bear in mind, I am referring to layout not content). Yet on the other side of the coin, it must be noted that being produced on a monthly basis does put a heavy strain on any editor, whereas bi-monthly and quarterly newsletter editors have a lot more time to perfect their work . This doesn't make The Log a bad newsletter, merely one that has had room to progress forward and has not taken the opportunity.