YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen have launched a teaser web site for a project that will host and provide tools to share and create magazines. But details are scarce about the new site, which is called Zeen.
The website lets interested users and organizations pre-register account names, but even registered users don’t get much information about what form the service will take.
“Thank you for registering on zeen.com,” reads a welcome message for registered users. “You’ll soon be able to discover and create beautiful magazines with us.”
The site’s tagline promises to help “discover & create beautiful magazines” – a suggestion that the creative duo wants to capitalize on renewed interest in the magazine format that has come with the growing popularity of similarly-shaped tablet computers. There has been no indication of whether the service will be accompanied, for example, with an app for viewing hosted content.
Hurley and Chen started YouTube in 2005 with Jawed Karim, another co-worker from PayPal. The wildly successful video sharing site was acquired by Google in 2006. The two have gone on to start AVOS Systems, which has since acquired del.icio.us.
The project’s name is almost certainly a nod to “zines,” a type of self-published, frequently informal and collage-influenced publications that rose to prominence in punk rock scenes beginning in the 1970s. A handful of zines from the pre-internet era, including BoingBoing, successfully re-imagined themselves as blogs – and, on or offline, “zinester” communities still persist in many areas.
Though Zeen seems likely to seize on a similarly individualistic mentality, the limitations of computer displays will make it difficult for the project to achieve a similar material diversity as zines, some of which incorporate cloths, solid objects and other mediums unusual in the printed realm.
PC Magazine’s David Murphy speculated that Hurley and Chen might intend to democratize layout in a fashion similar to how Instagram has socialized – and simplified – photography.
“And here’s hoping the general Internet population doesn’t launch 6,000 different cat magazines once Zeen goes live,” he quipped.
There are hints that the Zeen operation is ramping up in addition to the new web site. The page also links to a number of open positions at AVOS, in software engineering, systems, and user interface and visual design. It is unclear whether those jobs relate to Zeen.