The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

The Atlantic rides again (again)

Back in college, the Atlantic was basically my introduction to the world of ideas. I still remember reading this classic article by James Fallows and feeling whole new lobes of understanding come online. This was policy, not politics. Macro, not micro. Oh. That’s how the world works.

(As an aside: I have a vivid memory of reading a printout of that Fallows article in my freshman year dorm room. But that’s not possible; it was published during my senior year. Harumph.)

I also loved Robert Kaplan‘s tales of global unrest—and even though he sometimes creeps me out these days, there’s no denying that his super-macro view was hugely influential.

Anyway, I haven’t read an issue of the Atlantic in a long time, and I am only an occasional consumer of the Atlantic’s site—usually thanks to links that Tim and Matt post here. (There have been a few exceptions.)

But the Atlantic is resurgent. I feel it. They’ve got a credible web strategy that manages to leverage the physics of the web without sacrificing sophistication, and it’s paying dividends:


On top of that, they just hired Alexis Madrigal. What a coup.

On top of that, they got Frank Chimero to illustrate this year’s Ideas issue. Another coup. (Check it out at full-size. Isn’t the End of Boredom, at the very bottom, amazing?)


Doing these illustrations for The Atlantic has been one of my favorite experiences as an editorial illustrator. Working with art director Jason Treat was a great experience: I’m surprised how smoothly the whole process of making 10 illustrations on a relatively short deadline went. Having such interesting, quality content to start with surely helped. You just have to sort of hope you do the writing justice. It felt great to get a job, read the articles and say to yourself “I’m getting paid to read this?!”

I give The Atlantic seven thumbs up, and am excited to see what’s to come from them, as an illustrator excited to work with them again, but also as a person who yearns for quality things to read and consider.

Oh, and thanks for the kindly compliments!

Tim Maly says…

I’m on my mobile so I can’t look it up but @jayrosen_nyu or @neimanlab recently posted a link to an article talking about how well The Atlantic is doing digitally. So there’s more evidence for you.

How can you be a fan of the snark, and NOT be an Andrew Sullivan fan?

Tim Carmody says…

I would have the Atlantic hold a big conference like the New Yorker does, if only because I’m not terribly original. (Besides, somebody told me to bet on events…)

I think the major thing holding this plan back is the fact that googling “Atlantic Conference” already pulls up results about college sports and semi-secret agreements between Churchill and Roosevelt that would be hard to displace.

The Atlantic does have a big conference! Sorta. They’re the big co-organizer/co-presenter of the Aspen Ideas Festival.

See, I knew there was something — vague memories of watching video of Andrew Sullivan. But when I googled “Atlantic conference,” all I found was the above.

The other idea I’d steal from The New Yorker is their “Book Bench” blog. Seriously, that thing is good.

Oh, darn, that’s not what I was envisioning after Tim’s comment at all. Maybe we can persuade Alexis to start lobbying for The Atlantic to create an accessible urban conference–say, “Atlantic/Pacific” out here.

“Atlantic/Pacific.” That is a really, REALLY good idea. (Seriously.)

Yeah! Something completely different from either Aspen or The New Yorker! F— those rich guys! And put it in Chicago, or Boston, or D.C., or Seattle, in September! And you don’t go to see famous people from the magazine — like, you bring out the smartest, most genial people the famous people at the magazine want to introduce you to, who you don’t know, and together, you (the reader/audience), the smart people, and the famous people make something.

(As an aside: I have a vivid mem­ory of read­ing a print­out of that Fal­lows arti­cle in my fresh­man year dorm room. But that’s not pos­si­ble; it was pub­lished dur­ing my senior year. Harumph.)

As an aside on your aside, tell this story and end with the sentence “and that’s why I don’t believe in witness testimony” and you will never be picked for jury duty again (until we fix the broken system).

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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