Media thinkers and makers are deconstructing the article. Publishers and authors question the essential nature of the book. Web content people are abandoning the document and the page as units of production.
The similarities between our conversations are becoming too interesting to ignore. As we question the assumptions that seemed firm even a few years ago, we’re all looking harder at what our readers want and need: how they learn, how they find and use our work, how they draw connections. We’re all trying to find new forms—and new combinations of old ones—that meet those needs, win and reward attention, and better serve the stories we’re here to tell.
For our fourth issue, we’ve asked some of our favorite writers to consider a single form, or a new take on a familiar one. They come from half a dozen different fields, but they all share at least one thing: they’re makers as well as thinkers, and their ideas emerge from practical, hands-on work. We begin with an interview with the founders of one of our favorite projects in journalism, and we’ll be releasing another story (or two) each week through early September. But the beginning of issue four is only the first thing we have to share with you this week.
Special Report #1
Nearly every week brings news of another major acquisition or roll-up or relaunch in the tech world. Too often, those changes also bring the familiar announcement that a beloved service is shutting down and taking with it everything its users had poured into it. It’s time that we—the ground-level makers of these services—got better at navigating change without dumping quite so much user effort (and goodwill) overboard each time.
So we sat down with a group of makers with experience launching and running companies, archiving fragile information, and advocating for more ethical data practices, and we hashed out a starting point.
This week, we launch our first special report. It’s a position statement on practices for handling and preserving user-created content in moments of major change, and it’s also a heads-up for companies, and a rallying cry for users. It’s a beginning. We hope it will spark sturdier conversations online and in conference rooms, and that you’ll help us make it better.