My Contribution To The Navel Gazing

I was going to avoid writing about the Atlantic redesign except to say that I like the way it looks, and I am happy with the way that the team responded to some of the concerns that we had about the personal blogs. With one business day, a major technical and structural issue was fixed, and you can read more about that on James Fallow's blog.

I do want to discuss the concept behind the branding of the new site, as I see it. First, please familiarize yourself with Bob Cohn, the editorial director. Bob was the guy who brought Wired Magazine into the 22nd century -- kind of like its Sam Simon to Kurt Anderson's Matt Groening. You can read about his vision here.
In redesigning a site that was itself redesigned a year ago, we were trying to strike a balance between the need for a web experience that attracts more readers and our duty to the long-time citizens of our civic neighborhood. Hovering above and below is the Atlantic's raison d'etre -- one that is evolving but that has always held itself to a higher standard. We did not want to create a site that turns out chaff and separates it into channels; if you look through the channels, you will not see chaff; you will see original content, reporting and analysis.

Was it designed to maximize potential advertising revenue? Of course -- but I can say with conviction that the design itself was conceived of as a way to showcase the Atlantic's increasing roster of talent and contributions first.  There needn't necessarily be a conflict between a website that organizes content around voices, or "stars," and one that is organized around "channels," or subjects. The previous redesign took my personal blog away, and with it, the chance for me to write about subjects other than politics.  I now have my blog back.

Chris Good and I will curate the politics channel, which will pull in political content from our roster of correspondents and writers. (When Joshua Green returns from paternity leave, he'll be contributing quite a bit.)  My piece of the Atlantic online empire has always been a bit odd, because I consider myself a reporter first and an analyst second. I was always less of a voice than a subject matter specialist, and the new design fits my online persona quite nicely. Sorry I don't have anything more controversial to say.  And, of course, I speak for myself, and not for anyone else here. Goodness knows they can (and have!) spoken for themselves.