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Prosumeristic Publications: alt+yd



This article describes the design process followed in the making of a prosumerist publication. alt+yd is a printed zine that goes beyond one way communication with its readers. It takes into account the reactions of Instagrammers to its digital publication and using a program, incorporates it into its printed self. Inspired from the Open Source and Open Data culture, project alt+yd reflects upon the kind and medium of content most consumed today, and the relevance and possible adaptations of traditional media to keep in pace with emerging digital culture.
This article describes the design process followed in the making of
a prosumerist publication. alt+yd is a printed zine that goes beyond
one way communication with its readers. It takes into account the
reactions of Instagrammers to its digital publication and using a
program, incorporates it into its printed self. Inspired from the Open
Source and Open Data culture, project alt+yd reects upon the kind
and medium of content most consumed today, and the relevance
and possible adaptations of traditional media to keep in pace with
emerging digital culture.
In this article we present to you an experiment in editorial design,
the output of which is a zine named alt+yd. The experiment involved
integrating social media as a programmed content source for a print
publication. Simply put, we created a program that would convert
Instagram prole data into printable publication spreads. We believe
writing about this editorial design process is of importance as our
experiment is potentially one of several precursory examples pointing
towards the future of print publication.
The National Institute of Design is India’s premier design education,
service, and research institution. It was established in 1961 based
on Charles and Ray Eames’ India Report. Every year at NID, hundreds
of students sit for the annual campus recruitment event, colloquially
called the ‘placements’. Each year, there are two kinds of openings
at the event- for students seeking graduation thesis internships and
for graduates seeking jobs. The industry representatives attending
the fair sift through a diverse plethora of interests, talents and skill
sets. Those who t the cookie-cutter requirements of the industry are
selected and often offered large starting packages.
The placements is a good platform to meet potential employers if
what the student seeks is to work in these said companies. However,
most students are in the process of guring out what they want to do
and nd themselves to not t in the demands of the campus recruit-
ment companies. Students with portfolios that do not adhere to the
Ajitesh Lokhande 1, Harshali Paralikar 2
In collaboration with: Prof. Tanishka Kachru 3,
Prof. Praveen Nahar 4
1,2,3,4 National Institute of Design (NID),
Paldi, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Published online: 7 March 2019
To cite this article: Lokhande, Ajitesh, and Paralikar, Harshali.
“Prosumeristic Publications: alt+yd. (2019)
What might we
get if we CTRL + P
an Insta prole?
traditional interpretations of their disciplines nd it difcult to market
their design approach and practice. Furthermore, younger students in
the early years of their design education have little more than these
traditional interpretations of their disciplines to look up to, thereby
preventing themselves from exploring the eld independently.
In light of these micro-conicts taking place owing to the dynamics of
placements, discussions rose amidst the authors to create a platform
that showcases alternative projects and celebrating experimenta-
tion. A shared desire was expressed of bringing to public attention
projects that touch upon key non-mainstream subjects and meth-
odologies but often go unnoticed. Therein the idea of a publication
documenting such projects emerged.
The name alt+yd is a take on the Young Designer (YD) books pub-
lished yearly by NID which are a compilation of all the graduation
thesis projects of that year.
Alt+yd displays a curation of graduation thesis projects of NID that
explore emerging design practices and futures of India. By showcas-
ing alternative possibilities of graduation projects, alt+yd aims to
be a source of inspiration for budding design students and make a
statement to the design industry of the fresh possibilities that the
eld provides.
Publication has traditionally been a one way communication platform
where the printed material communicates to the reader. The authors
decided to ask- what might a book look like if every reader in some
way could contribute to the published content? In a connected world
of the internet, how might one achieve that?
Hopping from the concept of shared Google docs and crowdsourced1
content the authors landed on the concept of Prosumerism2.
A Prosumer2 is a person who produces as well as consumes a prod-
uct. In the context of the early 21st century, it is the blurring of the
meaning of the term ‘product’ itself. On almost all digital platforms
today, the consumer of the digital content is often also the producer
of the said content. A give and take of data to and from the people
runs most systems today. Interesting results can be seen if the con-
cept of prosumerism is applied to other, traditionally one-way media.
Given its wide reach and ease of use, Instagram was chosen as
the social media platform to display alt+yd. An Instagram page (@
altplusyd) was created for the project. The primary content of the zine-
a curated collection of provocative projects was regularly updated on
the page. The aim of the page was to elicit dialogue and reactions to
the projects that would be posted on it.
An application was custom developed in the Processing Development
Environment (PDE)3 to extract all the content of the Instagram page
and convert it into print ready spreads. This application exploited
Instagram data available to its users in the form of JSON les. These
les helped with the extraction of two kinds of data- 1) The meta-
Fig. 1. (Top to bottom) The Instagram post, the program,
the generated spread, the printed book
data: project title, department etc. was extracted from the hashtags,
2) Project information: the project description, comments and likes
were pulled from the post. The consequent spreads therefore not only
contained the projects but also the reactions and comments they
had garnered on Instagram ensuring that the same audience who
would read the book in the future could contribute to its contents in
the present.
The additional standard pages of a publication such as the title, con-
clusion and print notes were created in InDesign and added to the
generated PDF of the main text block. The technique of foiling was
used for the cover page, each cover was foiled by hand, giving each
copy a unique appearance. The cover and the text block were then
center-stapled and cut.
The rst edition of alt+yd was available at the 39th Convocation Cer-
emony at NID, 2019. Every printed edition thereafter will be different
from its predecessor due to its ever evolving content.
The project was a spontaneous venture of like-minded people. The
authors had total freedom on the design and production of the proj-
ect. Constraints were few but hefty.
The project was conceived on the 1st of December, 2018 and had
to be delivered by 10th of January, 2019. The entire timeline for con-
ceptualization, prototyping, and production was all within a month.
The budget of the project was restricted to 5000 INR, i.e. around
70.44 USD.
The eye is well acquainted to how a book reads. So much so that
the mind forgets that the book is the the way it is owing to the
design and production freedoms and constraints from the era of
the printing press.
A prosumeristic publication comes with its own quirks on how it
reads. These quirky elements are not entirely new. It was observed
that they merely seemed misplaced to the eye in the context of a
printed booklet. Following are observations and feedback of the
readers of alt+yd as well as the authors:
The emoji ‘ 45’ (heart symbol+a number) is a familiar symbol.
Most are aware of what it signies in the digital world- that 45 peo-
ple have ‘liked’ the post. Yet, nding it on printed paper was a new
Proper nouns were no longer just words. Any name which had an
Instagram prole to it was tagged with an ‘@’. This is a common prac-
tice in the digital world, yet, seemed uncommon when every name
was followed by the Instagram counterpart of it.
Comments that tagged other people, thanked someone or stated
something with strong emotions, when printed suddenly felt like they
were important. An indication of how we take printed content more
seriously than digital?
The usage of ‘#hashtags’ to control the content ow between
the Instagram posts and the publication- Since not all posts could
be a part of the publication due to certain editorial decisions and
constraints, a new system using hashtags was devised to control this
content ow. These hashtags helped the custom-developed program
Fi g. 2 . Production cycle of alt+yd
Fi g. 3 . Printed copy of alt+yd, rst edition (2019)
to identify the posts that were to be fully incorporated in the publi-
cation, the posts to be included partially as well as those that were
supposed to be excluded completely.
Comments on the digital platform are another regularly occurring
phenomenon. Yet, printed comments seems unusual, even more so
when on reading them one realizes that they could be bots!
This zine explores a future of print publication where the boundary
between digital and physical publication is blurred. The physical is
not merely a tangible copy of the digital. Rather, the physical could
borrow from the evolving reactions to the digital, making reaction
another form of content. With a future-oriented outlook, the approach
with which alt+yd was made asks the following questions:
‘In what ways might the boundary between the digital
and printed be blurred?’
‘How might ‘open source’ be interpreted in the world
of print publication?’
‘Can a reader contribute to a book even after it has been printed?’
The projects were curated by Tanishka Kachru and Praveen Nahar
on the basis of guidelines discussed and articulated by the team.
Project management, art direction and Instagram management were
done by Ajitesh Lokhande, Harshali Paralikar, and Prajjwal Chandra
(students, NID). The app was developed by Yatharth (student, NID).
1. Howe, Jeff (June 2, 2006). “Crowdsourcing: A Denition”.
Crowdsourcing Blog. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
2. Tofer, Alvin. The Third Wave. Bantam Books, 1990.
1. Ayres, Carly. Crowdsourced Résumé,
3. Processing Development Environment (PDE),
We thank Kamlesh Bhai and Sachin Bhai from NID Print Labs for their guidance. Ut-
tishta Varanasi and Madhu Priyanka Kannabiran for their feedback and inputs. Aarushi
Bapna, Aditya Kumar, Prerna Shaurya, Poorvanshi Shende for assistance in production.
Fi g. 4 . Example of a printed comment, potentially from
a bot account, alt+yd (January, 2019)
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Crowdsourcing: A Definition
  • Jeff Howe
Howe, Jeff (June 2, 2006). "Crowdsourcing: A Definition".
The Third Wave. Bantam Books
  • Alvin Toffler
Toffler, Alvin. The Third Wave. Bantam Books, 1990.