The Intellectual World as Magazine Shop

Just back from “Family Weekend” at MIT (very well done, BTW) and catching up on things. The following appeared in the American Sociological Association‘s newsletter this month. It reminded me of the stunning fragmentation of intellectual discourse — the number of mutually exclusive conversations going on at one time, even among those who claim membership in one discipline in one country.

Just when you thought it was safe to start reading again….

An Interdisciplinary Collection of Essays on the Zombie seeks proposals for an interdisciplinary volume discussing the zombie from a variety of perspectives and within a range of contexts. Submissions from all disciplines are invited. In addition to theoretical essays on zombies, we also welcome critical discussions of specific zombie films, novels, and graphic novels, including those both pre- and post-Romero. Proposals should be between 200 and 300 words. Include brief author biographical details with their submissions, including name and academic affiliation. Submit proposals either electronically or by regular mail. Deadline: October 31, 2008. Contact: Cory James Rushton, Dept. of English, St. Francis Xavier University, PO Box 5000, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, B2G 2W5, Canada;; or Christopher M. Moreman, Dept. of Philosophy, California State University-East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward, CA 94542;

My title refers to the fact that the value of targeted advertising can make it economical to publish magazines aimed at extremely small niche readerships. If you scan the titles in a magazine shop it’s easy to start thinking, “there can’t be that many people around here interested in moose hunting!” And you’re right, there aren’t. But the ones that are out there love reading that magazine and the sellers of moose hunting paraphernalia really need to reach them, not you. It’s a small world with lots of villages.

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

One thought on “The Intellectual World as Magazine Shop”

  1. i have seen this also in terms of specialty stores for items i would have never imagined peopelwould be interested in buying. for example, there’s this one cafe that serves just toast and jam and i only open for breafast. when a friend admitted shejust adores the place and invited me to go, i was beside myself with disbelif that the place literally only servedtoast and jam and has been quite successful.

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