Kai Brach is a talented web designer passionate about using the Internet to create meaningful connections and share ideas. After years of designing for the web where his work would eventually get swept away and replaced by something newer, Kai longed for the earlier days of the Internet. “I started to feel quite cynical about the web community. It had become more and more about making money and consumerism than what the web was originally intended for: to connect people and share ideas.”
That’s when Kai decided to try something new by “taking tech off the screen” and started Offscreen; a real, printed magazine with a thoughtful, human-centered take on technology and the web. Offscreen magazine “celebrates the human side of technology and the web” and “explores innovative ideas through introspective writing and human stories.” Kai uses Offscreen as a way to mindfully reflect on our tech-driven lifestyles and ask critical questions about how we shape technology and how technology shapes us.
“The world of pixels was where I felt at home.”
The Power of Offscreen
Kai has been publishing Offscreen for more than five years and takes on a range of roles in order to produce the small, independent one-man magazine, now on its 17th issue. “Wearing the many different hats of a publisher, editor, designer, business owner, etc. challenges me every day.” Although difficult at times, Offscreen has proven to be the most satisfying creative endeavor Kai has every taken on. Along the way, Kai has met many thoughtful, kind, and talented people, re-establishing his belief in the tech/web industry as a community that can making a lasting, impactful change in the world.
“Receiving supportive, heartfelt feedback from my readers is the absolute highlight of what I do.”
Maintaining Balance in a Tech-Driven World
A printed magazine covering web and tech may seem counterintuitive, but it is Kai’s contribution to a more mindful world. Kai recognizes that in today’s world powered by technology, many applications are created to encourage addictive behaviour patterns. “We’re still at the beginning of figuring out what impact these new, ever-demanding technologies have on us.”
“While as consumers we can’t change the design of these tools, we can learn about and be aware of the addictive behaviour patterns and then actively push back.”
Sticking to the hardcopy version for Offscreen magazine is integral to what Kai believes in. Although reading a print magazine can momentarily offer a break from a busy world, he admits that it doesn’t address the underlying problem. “If we want a more balanced approach to tech, we need to realize and break unintentional patterns.”, Kai explains.
“We need to find ways to think more clearly about ourselves by removing external distractions.”
Putting Things into Perspective
Removing yourself from your everyday environment and traveling to new places is an excellent way to feel rejuvenated and gain perspective. Before Kai began Offscreen, the German-born designer-turned-publisher spent years travelling, studying and working in Australia, Asia and the US.
“This extended time [travelling] by myself has transformed me into the person I am today.”
Travel remains an important element in his life, having just returned from a hiking trip to the European Alps. “I absolutely love the mountains. It’s the ideal reminder of our complete insignificance and puts everything we do into perspective.”
Kai’s Questions for the Kyō:
- What can I do to align my life (including my work) with my ethical and moral values?
- Am I spending enough time nurturing relationships with the people I love?
- Am I taking this too seriously?