Are there any forms of writing that you feel are inherent to the internet (as in blogs, social diaries, lists)? Do you try and work through these forms? Do you find them valuable?

I don’t know if I have anything great to add here. I think there are forms, like lists, that are more popular online because they are quick to read and easy to respond to. You can ignore them in print and skip to the more substantial stuff. You can do that online, too, but generally don’t. It’s a good way to kill a minute or two, and/or start a conversation online by sharing it.

I do think there’s value in writing that can be revisited, amended, responded to outside of traditional publishing structures.

I don’t know if I have anything great to add here. I think there are forms, like lists, that are more popular online because they are quick to read and easy to respond to. You can ignore them in print and skip to the more substantial stuff. You can do that online, too, but generally don’t. It’s a good way to kill a minute or two, and/or start a conversation online by sharing it.

I do think there’s value in writing that can be revisited, amended, responded to outside of traditional publishing structures.

Do you think the internet allows for a better sense of your public (because of social networks, discussion forums, etc.?) or do the few hours of flickering online attention following publication not c

Totally. When we were publishing a print journal, we had a list of subscribers but you don’t really know how many of those shipped issues are being read at all, how many are never opened and go straight to shelves or coffee tables. Online, your circulation is entirely determined by your audience and what they are reading, responding to, sharing and talking about. Some of this is through social networks but I also see our essays used more often as class materials, referenced in other magazine/journal texts, brought up in public conversations, linked on Wikipedia, so there’s a different type of impact that isn’t just about a private experience you have as a reader. Part of this has to do with being online, but the other part of this is about being free instead of putting up a paywall or charging for an issue.

Also, just to the idea that there are a few hours of attention immediately after publication: I think this is in some way true for online news sites, but I think that other types of writing and publishing online have a slower build and a longer life. You announce new content but it might take a while for people to get around to it and share it with others. And then it lives on in a way that a print issue of a magazine really doesn’t—it’s searchable and available to revisit whenever there’s an occasion to think about it again. With longer form writing in particular, I don’t think those first hours/days are that important. It’s just marketing noise.

Does publishing online change your approach to any of the following: length of piece, breadth of research, images you include, references to online sources?

Yes, from the editorial point of view. We can afford to include more images and prefer to link to online sources. I don’t think that it changes the breadth of research or length of the piece, but I do think it impacts the pace and the structure—online, I think you have to start strong in order to keep a reader; whereas with print, there’s probably a little more trust that the time you invest in reading it will pay off. In that sense, the image selection and placement matters a little more, too. You can’t assume a committed reader in the same way you might if someone purchased an issue. Bottom line, though, is that you choose your reader. It might be fine if 95% of people abandon it after 2 paragraphs but the other 5% see it through and it has a real impact on them.