James grew up in Nottingham, in the middle of England, but left as soon as he could. His father wanted him to be an accountant and sent him to study accounting, but he left after just one day. His real desire was to be in the music world in some way, but because he didn't have the right musical talents for either composing or performing, he started writing reviews for weekly music papers. He eventually got a staff job at one of them, Melody Maker in London, and after a short stint there he moved to New York and found himself feeling at home. He wrote a monthly column about music and life in the city that never sleeps for the London based The Face magazine. Cond&eacut; Nast, America's biggest magazine publisher, bought a controlling interest in The Face and admired the contribution that James was making. He was soon appointed features editor at Vogue. After just eighteen months he was placed in charge of his own magazine, Details, and made such a success of it that in 1994, at the age of thirty-four, James was appointed to oversee all of Cond&eacut; Nast's magazines, including Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, and Wired. Eleven years later, he walked away from his role as the "Prince of Cond&eacut; Nast" to experiment with interactive workshops and happenings.
James Truman asks whether media may be displaced by technology, as the word media implies something that intermediates, coming between an organization and an audience, while the Internet allows a direct conversation between creators and consumers, sometimes as members of communities, but also within the actions of single individuals as suggested by Paul Saffo's concept of the "creator economy." James gives an overview of the changes in magazine design during his tenure at Cond&eacut; Nast and describes his more recent search for meaning in direct communal experiences. He expects traditional media to reemerge, after a period of decline, in forms that are more luxurious, with magazines reveling in the highest quality imagery and books moving from text to colorful works of art with exquisite bindings and accessories.
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