Reactor

A New Way to Create Shareable, Collaborative Digital Zines

by Kyle Chayka on February 28, 2013

Screenshots from the Kyur8 zine "Women Sad and Alone With Salad"

Screenshots from the Kyur8 zine “Women Sad and Alone With Salad”

When it comes to sharing content online, we’re spoiled by choice. You can post pictures to your Tumblr or Facebook, videos to YouTube or Vine, and words to … pretty much anything. But what those formats lack is a way to control the narrative of what you post. The Facebook photo album, it should be said, lacks something in novelistic drama. Thankfully, there’s a new app that makes turning your images into digital magazines easier than ever.

The awkwardly named Kyur8 (read: “curate”) offers away to “tell stories with pictures instead of words.” Through Kyur8, it’s simple to transform a collection of images drawn from your phone, Instagram, Facebook account, and other common sources into an interactive flipbook, with page-turning animations and options to create simple title and ending pages. The user interface is effortless (though my initial experiments are definitely not worth publishing).

In-app screenshot from Kyur8's creation process

In-app screenshot from Kyur8’s creation process

Once completed, the zines are shared into a feed that should be familiar to any Instagram user. What makes Kyur8 intriguing and different is the possibility of following different creators, turning the creation of digital magazines into a social process. If the creator so chooses, users can also add pages and comments to a Kyur8 zine, leading to a crowd-sourced collective document.

Though the app is still very young, there’s a slew of content to browse. Choices range from zines of vacation snapshots documenting hotels and beaches to a street-style compendium of the work of Tommy Ton, to a collection of maxed-out World of Warcraft characters. Highlights include a photo book from Cairo by Animal New York editor Bucky Turco (now removed, it seems) and work by hip, young photographer Sandy Kim documenting urban bohemia.

It’s possible to embed Kyur8 zines into blog and Tumblr posts to share them online, though it’s much easier to browse them on the app. The embedding makes for easy slide-show-style viewing, but I’m not sure how many more slide shows we need on the internet. The real capacity of Kyur8 is to tell stories in that sequential, page-by-page format that we’ve grown accustomed to ever since the medieval advent of folios. That aesthetically strict, sequential structure has lost out to other, more freely interactive methods online, but perhaps it’s making a comeback. Artists, go forth and zine!

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