Lily Gontard is learning to embrace the paradox that is the Internet.
It’s a technical wonder that wasn’t even guessed at, back when Captain Kirk walked through sliding doors and talked on his “cell phone”, yet it has allowed the very organic expression of ideas that has found a home in her Arctica Magazine at www.arcticamag.ca.
As a website, Arctica does not impose deadlines on writers; it allows for audio and video; and it is available to everyone … most everywhere.
And anyone can write for Arctica; submissions are blind judged.
“The readers and contributors will determine how it is going to look,” says Gontard, one of three members of the editorial team, along with Joanna Lilley and Jerome Stueart.
“And it depends on how they look at the circumpolar region.”
Yes, this online magazine is not limited to the Yukon; it is for, and by, anyone who is “enamoured by the mythology of the circumpolar region … and even the science of it,” says Gontard.
Stories of the circumpolar region are told this month in fiction (The Barrens by Katharine O’Flynn), in poetry (The Refrigerator by Michael Reynolds), in non-fiction (Excavation by Jennifer Kingsley) and in art ( ).
OK, there is no art this month – yet – but a blank page awaits anyone who may want to contribute.
The volunteers behind Arcticado not load the website all at once. Content goes up, when it comes in.
For some of these veterans of ink and paper, on the editorial team and the editorial board, it is a freedom that has caused some “Aha Moments”.
“Before we got started,” says Gontard, “we had a business plan and we were budgeting three years out, and we said, ‘Aha, we don’t have to pay for printing’ and that’s usually half of your budget.
“So, we can do something else with that money.
“That was very freeing.”
And the Internet allowed them the freedom to post audio, too. So, visitors to the website were able to hear the sound of the Yukon and Klondike rivers flowing under the ice as recorded by Charles Stankievech.
But the content is not an “easy read” or a “quick read” — “It’s supposed to stimulate,” says Gontard – and can’t be fully appreciated being read from a Blackberry on a bus … although Gontard does know people who do just that.
With it’s clean and uncluttered look, the website begs to be read while sitting by a fireplace or under a tree.
“I’m tempted by the iPad,” says Gontard, who is a self-confessed dinosaur who still uses a desktop computer. “We need to adapt to the Internet and to what the reader wants.
“We need to be flexible as publishers, writers and creators; we need to embrace how people accept our work and not be threatened by it.”
Gontard points to the Yukon News dropping the paper version of the Monday paper and running it online instead: “It’s a shift.”
“I still have my issue of Wired in the bathroom,” says Gontard, but I get my Outside newspapers online.”
At www.arcticamag.ca, the proponents can make it interactive with an online poll – this week’s question, If you were a circumpolar country, which would you be? — and a Writing Space Contest that challenges readers to explore the theme of space and the circumpolar region, literally or figuratively.
“It’s not one thing,” says Gontard of her online magazine. “It’s malleable.”