August 2012 issue

Date:1 August 2012 Tags:, , ,

From shameless provocation to ruminant identity crises, without being precious

This issue of Popular Mechanics marks our 10th anniversary in South Africa and the start of a new decade as this country’s leading science and technology brand. We’ve come a long way since our launch in August 2002, progressing from a single platform (print) to a demanding, multi-channel entity encompassing Web, e-mail newsletters, mobile interactions, social media initiatives, reader events, shows, conferences, brand extensions, television appearances, and more. Since a hefty slice of 21st century tech is focused on easier and more efficient communication, we’d like to think that we’re keeping pace – and in some instances, staying ahead of the game.

PM is a unique magazine for a number of reasons. Although we acknowledge its nominal categorisation as a “male interest” title, we derive great satisfaction from its growing – and refreshingly spirited – female readership, pointing out whenever possible that very little of our content is gender-specific. (Yes, and we’re including the cars, the gadgets and the DIY stuff.) PM is also special in that it covers everything from breaking science news to the latest consumer technology, from outdoor adventures to home improvement projects, from desirable cars and bikes to deeply philosophical questions that occasionally provoke discussions deep into the night.

We attempt to deliver all of this with the appropriate degree of gravitas (after all, our audience is known to be highly intelligent), but without being precious about it. Above all, we seek to surprise, delight and perhaps even provoke our audience with every issue. Take this one, for example: in an article titled “Incognito”, we extract some thought-provoking ideas from the eponymous book by neuroscientist David Eagleman, a researcher who’s clearly not afraid to make bold statements about our brains and how they sometimes trick us.

In macho mode, we embed ourselves – albeit briefly, with minimal chance of collateral damage – with some extremely tough American soldiers, gaining a rare insight into their training, thought processes and weaponry (see “Looking downrange”). In less combative mode, we preview the imminent touchdown of Nasa’s one-ton rover, Curiosity, on the surface of Mars, then venture even further afield with a comprehensive account of our Sun’s cycles.

We have more great gadgets and computers, of course, but we also offer sublime views of Earth from space, a distinctly sour view of Facebook, a showcase of bizarrely beautiful DIY guitars, and a profoundly moving account of an electric sheep that lost its identity.

Go on, be the first to know.

– Alan Duggan aland@ramsaymedia.co.za