Notes: A Work in Progress
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
As Gould said, we’re hoping Notes will feel both familiar and welcome to those of you who remember a bloggier Atlantic. But the Web's gotten more capable since, so there's also some brand new pizzazz under the hood, such as the fact that Notes flows just as nicely on a smartphone as it does on a laptop.
This page is another example of what’s new: a compilation of Notes that all relate to one particular story, tied together by an overview at the top of the page. If you click on a link to Gould’s note, you'll find that you come to this same page, but newer Notes like this one are compressed. This will allow you to quickly catch up on the context whenever you encounter a thread of coverage, whether it's a developing news story or an ongoing conversation.
The way we developed this feature should give you a sense of how we hope to involve you and other friends of The Atlantic in the evolution of Notes.
A month ago, we posted a message to our email lists and social feeds asking for people who considered themselves fans of The Atlantic and might be willing to beta-test a new project, with a link to a short survey (feel free to fill it out if you missed the call). More than thirty-five hundred people answered that call, and we invited a few of the local respondents to our offices at the Watergate in Washington, D.C., to spend some time with our early prototypes and share their reactions.
We were just a couple of weeks into designing Notes at this point, although we'd been planning it for months. After processing the feedback from those beta-testers, we made some adjustments to the designs, and brought in another set of fans for another test. Those early tests were deeply helpful; they gave us fresh perspectives on the designs, ideas for how to think about coverage and storytelling in this space, and even some thoughts on how to describe what Notes is. (One beta-tester likened it to the “front of the book”—the opening pages of the print magazine, where we feature letters about our coverage, shorter pieces, and bite-sized digressions.)
This process won't stop anytime soon, and if you join us on the regular, you'll be a part of it. We'll be regularly seeking your thoughts—direct and indirect—on what you love, what you'd change, and what you'd ask for. (And if you've already got thoughts, send them: email@example.com!)
I hope you'll stick around. You never know when you'll get an invite to the Watergate.