The Slow Media Manifesto

(see original Manifesto in German)

The first decade of the 21st century, the so-called ‘naughties’, has brought profound changes to the technological foundations of the media landscape. The key buzzwords are networks, the Internet and social media. In the second decade, people will not search for new technologies allowing for even easier, faster and low-priced content production. Rather, appropriate reactions to this media revolution are to be developed and integrated politically, culturally and socially. The concept “Slow”, as in “Slow Food” and not as in “Slow Down”, is a key for this. Like “Slow Food”, Slow Media are not about fast consumption but about choosing the ingredients mindfully and preparing them in a concentrated manner. Slow Media are welcoming and hospitable. They like to share.

1. Slow Media are a contribution to sustainability. Sustainability relates to the raw materials, processes and working conditions, which are the basis for media production. Exploitation and low-wage sectors as well as the unconditional commercialization of user data will not result in sustainable media. At the same time, the term refers to the sustainable consumption of Slow Media.

2. Slow media promote Monotasking. Slow Media cannot be consumed casually, but provoke the full concentration of their users. As with the production of a good meal, which demands the full attention of all senses by the cook and his guests, Slow Media can only be consumed with pleasure in focused alertness.

3. Slow Media aim at perfection. Slow Media do not necessarily represent new developments on the market. More important is the continuous improvement of reliable user interfaces that are robust, accessible and perfectly tailored to the media usage habits of the people.

4. Slow Media make quality palpable. Slow Media measure themselves in production, appearance and content against high standards of quality and stand out from their fast-paced and short-lived counterparts – by some premium interface or by an aesthetically inspiring design.

5. Slow Media advance Prosumers, i.e. people who actively define what and how they want to consume and produce. In Slow Media, the active Prosumer, inspired by his media usage to develop new ideas and take action, replaces the passive consumer. This may be shown by marginals in a book or animated discussion about a record with friends. Slow Media inspire, continuously affect the users’ thoughts and actions and are still perceptible years later.

6. Slow Media are discursive and dialogic. They long for a counterpart with whom they may come in contact. The choice of the target media is secondary. In Slow Media, listening is as important as speaking. Hence ‘Slow’ means to be mindful and approachable and to be able to regard and to question one’s own position from a different angle.

7. Slow Media are Social Media. Vibrant communities or tribes constitute around Slow Media. This, for instance, may be a living author exchanging thoughts with his readers or a community interpreting a late musician’s work. Thus Slow Media propagate diversity and respect cultural and distinctive local features.

8. Slow Media respect their users. Slow Media approach their users in a self-conscious and amicable way and have a good idea about the complexity or irony their users can handle. Slow Media neither look down on their users nor approach them in a submissive way.

9. Slow Media are distributed via recommendations not advertising: the success of Slow Media is not based on an overwhelming advertising pressure on all channels but on recommendation from friends, colleagues or family. A book given as a present five times to best friends is a good example.

10. Slow Media are timeless: Slow Media are long-lived and appear fresh even after years or decades. They do not lose their quality over time but at best get some patina that can even enhance their value.

11. Slow Media are auratic: Slow Media emanate a special aura. They generate a feeling that the particular medium belongs to just that moment of the user’s life. Despite the fact that they are produced industrially or are partially based on industrial means of production, they are suggestive of being unique and point beyond themselves.

12. Slow Media are progressive not reactionary: Slow Media rely on their technological achievements and the network society’s way of life. It is because of the acceleration of multiple areas of life, that islands of deliberate slowness are made possible and essential for survival. Slow Media are not a contradiction to the speed and simultaneousness of Twitter, Blogs or Social Networks but are an attitude and a way of making use of them.

13. Slow Media focus on quality both in production and in reception of media content: Craftsmanship in cultural studies such as source criticism, classification and evaluation of sources of information are gaining importance with the increasing availability of information.

14. Slow Media ask for confidence and take their time to be credible. Behind Slow Media are real people. And you can feel that.

Stockdorf and Bonn, Jan 2, 2010

Benedikt Köhler
Sabria David
Jörg Blumtritt

Visit our Blog with examples on and stories about Slow Media: http://en.slow-media.net

Confer also:

http://blog.stuttgarter-zeitung.de/?p=5122 (in German)

92 thoughts on “The Slow Media Manifesto”

  1. Sabria, Jörg and Benedict, thank you for having published this Manifesto. It reflects important values that had been temporarily overlooked out by this rush to do and consume more, rather than to dip and understand better what is happening and how to make the best of it.

    Thanks from the heart.

  2. I’m so happy to see you here and the Slow Media Manifesto. Slowness in all things will keep us all more sane, and connected to one another and to meaningful exchange. Carry on…slowly. I’ll help spread the word.

  3. rather THINKING than Slow ! Ich gratuliere Ihnen aus weitere Russland.
    “Fast-Food-MEDIA” don’t think about ME. Hence – they “MUST die!” )))

    с уважением,
    всегда Ваш
    покорный слуга
    Математик.Никифоров.

    meine sehr geherte Herren, immer Ihren ergeben Diener Matematik.Nikiforov.
    Moskau.

  4. Hello,

    Many thanks for your clear headed and insightful thinking. It is so nice to come across such sanity, and you make many excellent points about our choices being the basis of our behaviors, and the power of personal discernment.

    Years ago, I wrestled with the concepts behind the words “perfection” and “excellence”. It’s my experience that striving for perfection is a set-up for failure. Perfection is a zenith experience, rarely if ever attained. But excellence is any point on the continuum which is appreciably better than a previous position, something that doesn’t feel damning in its very attempt.

    I am suggesting a word change in the third declaration from “perfection” to “excellence” for the above reasons. This distinction may not be an issue in German, but only a translation concern.

    Unfortunately, I am not a German speaker, so the manifesto is the only part of your website that I am able to read. However, I applaud you on your collective thinking, and I look forward to the international spread of these important ideas.

    Most Sincerely,

    Ms. ML. Healey

  5. I agree. This is exactly the way it is meant to be understood: Slow media are continuously working on excellence, never reaching the state of perfection, but still trying to get closer to it. And, yes, we also look forward to the international spread of these ideas 😉

  6. Hi,

    I’m undertaking a PhD in Slow Media at RMIT University and am thinking I may be one of the first people to do so. Can we make contact to talk about the aspects of Slow Media etc for my research?

    best wishes from Melbourne

    Patrick Kelly

  7. I like the idea of a Slow Media PhD 🙂 Please let us know when you are planning a conference in Melbourne…
    Best wishes from overseas
    Sabria David

  8. Thank you for this beautiful statement! I am distributing it to all my contacts, and hope to see this concept ever more widely accepted and acted upon.

  9. Großartig!
    Please let me know if you think this is a slow medium: _The Little Germaniad,_ a verse memoir about expatriate childhood in Vienna, concluding with a frightening DDR-Czech border crossing at midnight on August 9, 1961, serialized as two quatrains per day at Twitter.com/formanex.

  10. The book. Theatre. Liturgy. The old media are the ultimate slow media. Media are not a creature of time but of culture. A person must desire the fruits of slow to partake the media slowly. New media does not ecnourage this, but then, is it also due to the electronic channel and not the media as object? A book online, same text, will not be read as “slow.”

    I bring in the cultural perspective because that’s key to McLuhan’s theories of media changing culture, and culture re-appropriating media. We’re celebrating McLuhan’s centenary globally in 2011, here in Toronto and worldwide. You may find quite a lot to like in McLuhan’s perspective. For example, the oral tradition of communication, which – true to the Laws of Media – is what the web has retrieved that we thought was in the past. Please also see my partner Patricia’s work on this at: http://slowlearning.org

  11. @Peter Jones: I agree – apart from not including new media: I think digital media can find their own way to be slow, not by just copying books.
    I also think the revitalization of oral tradition is an important key to understand what happens with digitalization. There’s a little paper from me on the genesis of open content and the parallels between the evolution of fairy tales and open source software: http://bit.ly/3CRdZE

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