Editor and Publisher Kai Brach’s Inspiringly Minimalist Media Intake
Melbourne-based Kai Brach, a former web designer and the publisher/editor of Offscreen, an independent print magazine about technology, and Dense Discovery, a weekly newsletter about productivity and inspiration, shares his current media diet with us—and why he firmly believes print has a place in 2020 and beyond.
Describe your morning routine.
Right now, due to the lockdown, I’m moving mostly within a ten-meter [thirty-two-foot] radius in my tiny apartment—from bed to desk to kitchen to bathroom. I usually go for a run in the first half of the day. I’m looking forward to riding my bike to the office, a co-working space I share with some really lovely people, not far from where I live here in Melbourne.
What are some of your go-to, indispensable daily reads and/or listens?
I’m foolish enough to check the news a few times every day: BBC, ABC Australia, and ARD and Der Spiegel (both German)—always on the web, no apps. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, most of which are somewhere between tech, design, and culture. Over breakfast, I also usually read a couple of articles queued up in my Pocket app.
Any favorite podcasts at the moment?
I think because I don't commute in a car or train, I never really got into the habit of listening to podcasts. Very rarely I put on an episode when I do “non-thinking” work. It’s whatever people recommend in newsletters or on Twitter, but nothing design-related. I really dislike ninety-nine percent of design-related podcasts.
Which outlets do you still prefer to read in print?
I occasionally read some of my—mostly fiction—books in print. Most often, though, I use my Kobo reader. In print, I like cookbooks and coffee-table books. I also enjoy browsing through different magazines, but I don’t read any regularly.
What are some of the best-designed publications, in your mind?
Difficult to pick just a few. Maybe I go with three M’s: MacGuffin, Migrant Journal, and Monocle—though I’m not a fan of Monocle’s content, the editorial design is great.
In an era of social distancing and online everything, what’s the place of print media?
The pandemic will pass, so this question is more about print versus digital. I think every medium has its place. We read different media in different ways. A quote comes to mind (that I can’t find the source of, unfortunately): “It’s time to start thinking about paper versus screens not as old versus new, but as different and complementary devices, each stimulating particular modes of thinking for particular times of our day.” [Editor’s note: We found the referenced text, in this Wired story by Brandon Keim, from 2014.] Printed publications have unique qualities that screens can’t match—and vice versa. It’s nice to have the option to pick which ones we prefer.
Any guilty pleasures when it comes to your media intake?
I really enjoy watching videos about modest architecture, like tiny houses or mini apartments, on YouTube.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tik-Tok?
Twitter—with the fact-checking turned on, please.
Okay, maybe enough news talk for now. What are you watching or reading for pleasure?
I read almost only fiction for pleasure. Current book is All the Light We Cannot See.