'American Futures': Introducing Our New Project

American reinvention, from the ground up.
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Just today, August 1st, The Atlantic is announcing a new project called "American Futures." You can read all the details in an introductory post -- which also introduces a new look for a new channel on our website -- here. Over the past few months, I have mentioned several times that my wife and I were getting ready for a new immersive-reporting project. This is what we have been working towards and have had in mind.

(You could also think of this as the Fallows family's effort to keep up with the adventurous spirit of Ta-Nehisi Coates and his family in their current immersive-reporting in France.)

This first post is just an overview. As you'll see, it lays out a collaborative effort among The Atlantic, the Marketplace public radio program, and the Esri technology company of California. Day by day in the next few days, I'll explain more about the ambitions and the practicalities of the program. Then early next week, we'll set out on the travels I'm describing. 

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Most of the chronicles my wife (Deborah Fallows) and I will do from the American Futures journeys will appear at this new, special site -- among other reasons, so they can take advantage of Esri's brand new "geo-blogging" technology. I'll make a for-the-record note here of each of them as it appears. Meanwhile I'll try to keep up a watchful beer-and-boiled-frog presence in this space. Plus more stuff about Asiana 214, which is already in the queue for later on August 1.

Cynics might say that I would do anything to escape the next debt-ceiling fight in Washington. That is true. But even apart from that, I am really looking forward to a period of exploring our own country the way we used to prowl around China or Malaysia, and to sharing what we find. 


For the record, after the jump, there is a 12-minute video of my presentation about the project at an Esri conference this month. The same video is at our new site too. I hope you find this concept interesting.

This video begins with an introduction by Jack Dangermond, the founder and CEO of Esri.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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