August 2007 (vol. 11)
|First issue||November 2001 (vol. 1)
October/November 2005 (vol. 2)
|Company||Seed Media Group|
Seed (subtitled Science Is Culture; originally Beneath the Surface) is an online science magazine published by Seed Media Group. The magazine looks at big ideas in science, important issues at the intersection of science and society, and the people driving global science culture. Seed was founded in Montreal by Adam Bly and the magazine is now headquartered in New York with bureaus around the world. May/June 2009 (Issue No. 22) was the last print issue. Content continues to be published on the website.
Seed was a finalist for two National Magazine Awards in 2007 in the categories of Design and General Excellence (100,000 to 250,000), is the recipient of the Utne Independent Press Award, and is included in the 2006 Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology published by Houghton Mifflin and edited by Brian Greene.
The magazine publishes original writing from scientists and science journalists. Scientists who have contributed to the magazine include: James D. Watson, Freeman Dyson, Lisa Randall, Martin Rees, Steven Pinker, E.O. Wilson, and Daniel Dennett. Seed's design direction was created by Stefan Sagmeister. Jonah Lehrer also contributed features to Seed.
Bly's first incursion into media came in 2000, when he launched an online magazine, the Journal of Young Scientists (www.joysnet.com). He was previously a researcher at Canada's National Research Council. JoYS shared Seed's focus on the roles of science in many aspects of society, as well as its emphasis on design. Nobel laureate Leon M. Lederman was among the senior scientists who contributed to the magazine.
Founding the media group SEED Group, based in Montreal and funded privately, Bly started Seed's publication in Canada in November 2001. The magazine focused on the meeting of science and culture at its inception: Bly's first editor's note declared that "SEED defines the science of contemporary urban culture". In additional interviews, he explained that the magazine would connect to the reader by showing the widespread applications of science, as well as giving faces to "the people behind science" by placing people on the covers. The first issue had a circulation of 105,000 within the U.S. and Canada; popular science writer Matt Ridley was among the contributors.
In its design, Seed was self-declared as "science couture", with many pages where graphics outweighed text. The first cover featured a nude male-female couple and included pieces themed around birth. The Boston Globe described two interior pages in which "Above a pacifier image is an essay on fluids and engineering with curves. A purple balloon floats above a few sentences about the expanding universe." High fashion also permeated the magazine's advertising, which included "Hugo Boss, Kaluha [sic], Evian, Club Monaco, Absolut Citron, Kenzo, [and] Skechers" in the first issue; The Christian Science Monitor describes the juxtaposition of the graphic design as "often making it difficult to tell where the journalism ends and the sales pitches begin".
The magazine is laid out into the following sections, each separated by a portfolio of science photography:
- Notebook - The magazine's front-of-book department contains a mix of news, op-art, opinions, interviews and articles and includes columns by Chris Mooney (Politics), PZ Myers (Pharyngula) and Mara Hvistendahl (Asia).
- Incubator - Summary of various innovative Scientific ideas. This section also contains each month's entry in the Cribsheet; "SEED's tear-outable tool for living in the 21st Century", a series of small posters each summarizing a separate scientific field, printed on heavy card stock. The series is also available for free download on SEED's website in GIF and PDF formats.
- Features - Includes profiles, essays, photoessays, investigations and fiction. This section also contains the regular feature Seed Salon, which transcribes a conversation between a scientist and an artist or humanist.
- Reviews - A guide to global science culture; includes reviews and critiques of books, exhibits, plays, films, museums and art
- Laboratory - The magazine's back page captures science being conducted in unexpected places.
- Toombs, Jill (September 9, 2000), "Media-savvy science enthusiast Adam Bly is using print and the Net to spread his message: Scientists aren't all nerds", National Post: W2, ISSN 1486-8008
- Chen, Josette (January 3, 2002), "Science in culture: Cool for nerds", Nature 415 (6867): 22, doi:10.1038/415022a, ISSN 0028-0836
- Campbell, Kim (November 21, 2001), "Geeks need not apply: Science is chic in SEED magazine", The Christian Science Monitor: 14, ISSN 0882-7729
- Cook, Gareth; Globe staff (November 13, 2001), "Worlds collide: "Science couture" in a magazine", The Boston Globe: C1, ISSN 0743-1791
- Holden, Constance, ed. (November 16, 2001), "Random Samples: Science's Vanity Fair", Science 294 (5546): 1451, ISSN 0036-8075
- Seed: Cribsheet