Is there a reason for Kvantti to be?

During the summer, I got in my hand the book for the 70 years of our Guild. Many things from the history of the Guild described in the book are very interesting. In the book, there are 6+2 pages about Kvantti that made me think about its role in the past and gave birth to a controversy (in my mind) about its possible future. For sure the times before the internet will not return, thus the role of Kvantti as the “main voice” of the Guild can’t be of the same type as in its early years, a kind of news bulletin for the Guild’s members. However, does the current form of it satisfy any “voicing” need of the Guild, really?

Nowadays all activities of the Guild are communicated electronically. Email lists and Telegram groups are overwhelmingly more effective in providing information about activities and bringing close the members of the Guild. Kvantti has nothing to offer as a newsletter in that sense, but that does not necessarily mean that it can’t still play the role of the “main voice” of the Guild. The question is does the Guild have something to say? The electronic channels of communication are so good for information distribution, yet a magazine (in paper and in electronic format) provides a much better space for communication that goes past the surface and the ephemeral. Yet that does not seem to be something actively aimed by the Guild.

What is the connection of the Guild to Kvantti? In large part, Kvantti is just a separate group of people from inside the Guild that wish to express themselves somehow, believing that a magazine would be fun to participate in. Still does that mean that Kvantti is the voice of the Guild? Is the Guild just the sum of its individual members or does the Guild create higher and more complex organic structures? Have we accepted so much in our culture the Thatcherian “there is no society, just individuals”? If not, why do we act as if we did, regarding the “main voice” of the Guild? Why is Kvantti not receiving articles regarding the important issues that concern the Guild and the different groups that are active in it? Why does it not express a voice regarding the issues that concern the university? Or the social issues to the solutions of which we are supposed to contribute “when we grow up”? Why is Kvantti not receiving collective articles (with the bright exception of the fiilis team – thank you!) that express the views of the Guild and its groups? Is it that there are no active groups that wish/need to produce their view in written or photographic format? Is it that this function of the Kvantti is not well understood by the members and the groups of the Guild? Is it a coincidence that there are plenty of people who don’t know that they can publish in Kvantti or that they don’t even know that Kvantti exists? Is it so widespread an understanding that the magazine is just a group of people and not the voice of the Guild? Is it that people nowadays do not read and thus they have no interest in writing either? Is it all together?

Personally, I have contributed two articles in the last two issues of Kvantti (this is a third one). My thinking at the time was to share my views on issues that are inspired from the courses I attend and especially focused on controversies on the content of the courses. My hope was to initiate a discussion. Boldly failed! In addition, with surprise and sadness I learn that during the last year it was taken the decision that Kvantti will not be distributed anymore, not to all the members of the Guild as I would expect from the “main voice” of the Guild, but not even to the few academic addresses it was distributed in the past. Making me wonder, what is the reason for writing for a magazine that does not communicate your message and can’t stimulate a discussion?

I would be very interested in hearing more on it from the friends with whom we took the journey of Kvantti this year and from all the members of the Guild. Should we destroy Kvantti or is there a reason to think of ways to recreate it?

1 tykkäys

Hi, as a past editor-in-chief and a current highly inactive editor who has a special place for Kvantti in their heart I found this a bit provocative.

I’m personally very much against defining the purpose of Kvantti in any higher detail. After all, the editorial staff consists of people that are first and foremost students who have their own priorities and who get no compensation for their work. That means that Kvantti can look very different from year to year depending on who decides to take making the magazine upon themselves, and in that sense Kvantti cannot be viewed the same way as a magazine with paid staff.

In my opinion having any external pressure regarding what Kvantti should and shouldn’t be would be unfair and too restricting for the people that dedicate some of their valuable time to making it. High expectations and external pressure would probably mean that guild members would be more cautious in joining, and that might lead to trouble in passing on the magazine to next generations.

If one wants to use Kvantti as a platform for reaching a bit larger audience and write about more serious stuff, then they can try to do it. In fact, Kvantti is not a bad vehicle for that at all. It actually has a reputation as a guild magazine that can be taken seriously, and that is not to be taken for granted. However, reaching people takes time and effort. You have to go to them, and before that you have to write stuff that you can present to people.

Regarding the magazines not being distributed anymore, Kvantti also has its own webpage. Web articles are much easier to share via Telegram channels etc., and provide a realistic way of reaching more readers. I don’t really believe that handing out magazines would really attract readers outside the guild room. After all, why would anyone read a magazine or an article by some physics students without being told to read it?

To me Kvantti being the main voice of the guild means quite simply that it is a platform dedicated for publishing stuff that exists within the guild and is intended for the guild members, and I would argue that no further justification for its existence is needed. Scrapping it would make no sense to me, since there is really nothing lost in having it.

As a final thought I also think that it is simply really fun that we have a magazine. It is a different sort of a platform to document the evolution of the guild, and it does provide a unique platform for more thought out takes on current topics, self-expression and just random fun stuff. If anyone wants Kvantti to operate in a different manner, the position as the next editor-in-chief is the best way to achieve that.

15 tykkäystä

Thank you for your thoughts, Appo!

It’s not a bit, it’s very provocative, that is the aim of writing it, to provoke discussion inside the Guild about Kvantti. Some comments:

  • About editors (1st paragraph): That is exactly what I wrote, in a sense. It’s different to have a magazine that represent a Guild and its function (“the voice of the Guild”) with editors… well… doing editors work in the material that the Guild produces, and different to have a magazine that represent the editors who produce the magazine.

  • About external pressure (2nd paragraph): So is the Guild “external pressure” for the magazine of the Guild?

  • About reaching out (3rd and 4th paragraph): This is not about serious or not serious staff. It’s about the aim of Kvantti, and if wider reach-out is an objective that contributes to its aim. The same applies to the distribution or not. It’s not the same to get each week in my postbox Nature in paper or to have the opportunity to read it online. Similarly, it’s not the same to distribute a magazine that represents a whole Guild or a magazine that represent its editors team. The same applies to the webpage too. Yes, Kvantti has an archive webpage. Depending to its aim, there are different ways that such a webpage could work in order to satisfy this aim, I don’t think I need to get in technical details here.

Some final words from me too. Ah, it’s not only fun, it’s wonderful and extremely important to have a magazine as a Guild. But my first year as an editor shown me more what I describe in my text. I believe that any editor-in-chief and editors should know what is the aim of the magazine they are taking forward. An aim decided by the Guild. If the people of the Guild think that there should be no defined aim to it, ok, it will be a decision and the editor-in-chief with the editors will have to deal with it. If on the other hand there is an aim that is communicated, then editor-in-chief and the editors will try to find out how to move towards that aim. Personally, I believe that this is something needed to be discussed as wide as possible, people to think what and why is Kvantti (even to learn that there is for some) something interesting and if they want to take a responsible position to it, either as an editor or an editor-in-chief. And that refers to me too.

I’d like to offer some thoughts on Kvantti as well.

On generating discussion

I agree with the original post that it would be nice if articles in Kvantti generated more discussion.

This might be better achieved by posting the articles to the Kvantti website – not just in the Archive, but also in the Articles section, which has now been quite unused. So, going to technical detail on this is IMO a good idea. Enabling comments in there would be an option. Another option would be to post more articles on this forum, like has happened now.

Some discussion has also happened inside Kvantti. I have myself written two follow-ups as responses to earlier articles in Kvantti.

As a separate point, I would like to see this forum used more for discussion outside the current uses of election discussion and meeting notes. Maybe there should be a category between ‘Hallinto’ and ‘Lörs’. And if more Kvantti articles were posted here, they could have their own category.

However, I’m pessimistic of lively or deep discussion emerging even if these technical solutions are tried. Don’t know how to make that happen.

Reasons for Kvantti to be

I agree with Pajouli that Kvantti has plenty of reasons to be, even if there is no coherent “voice of the Guild” that it is propagating. I even think it is already representing the “voice of the Guild” quite well, even though it is mostly shaped by what the editors want to produce. This is because

  1. the editors are a sample of Guild members, so content is produced by Guild members, and thus reflects their worldview, and
  2. the editors do have some sense of responsibility, and write about things they think are relevant to the Guild (even without an explicit “aim given by the Guild”).

One important role of a student magazine is to offer a window into the worldviews, values, thinking etc. of students. This is also a reason why professors and other university staff are intersted in reading student magazines. I think Kvantti is succeding at this task.

I do think pushing for more ambition and goal-setting inside the editorial team is good, and also agree that more people outside the editorial team should be aware of Kvantti as a platform they can use.

3 tykkäystä

Since I’m running for next year’s editor-in-chief I feel I should touch upon this.
I think Kvantti is a magazine made by physicist for physicist. Personally I like
to write (among other things) fun and more or less scientific articles and about
contemporary stuff, so I think Kvantti is a good vessel to publish such things.

I have looked at some of the older Kvanttis from time to time and discovered
that a lot has changed
–the world has changed
–Kvantti has changed
—there are much less political articles
—English articles are a relatively new thing
–wappu magazines have also changed in similar ways

Regarding Kvantti being the main voice of the guild we still have the editorial
and president’s column (puhispalsta) in practically every magazine. If the guild
has something to say it will be in Kvantti (probably excluding everything that can
be easily discussed via telegram though).

Unfortunately Kvantti’s circulation is small and constantly diminishing. Numerous
magazines are just lying about in the guild room. I think everyone who regularly
hang out at the guild room reads the new magazines and I hope even more people read
it online. Of course actually distributing it to everyone would likely increase the
number of people actually reading it.

Myriad good points have been made by everyone and I especially have to agree with
everything Akkete said. Response articles inside of Kvantti is something I’d like
to see.

2 tykkäystä