â€œIn the digital realm, there is infinite space, but somehow this hasnâ€™t resulted in a flowering of long-form content,â€ Mr. Ratliff said. He had long considered building a Web site that would be more hospitable to long articles, but had also been spending a fair amount of time on his subway commute reading those pieces on his iPhone.
The men called Jefferson Rabb, a programmer and Web designer known for building remarkable sites for books. In bars up and down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, the three talked about whether there was a way to use these devices to make the Web a friend, not an enemy, of the articles they liked to work on and read.
And, in what may be the first tangible result of journalists gathered in a bar to complain about the state of reading, they did something beyond ordering another round.
The result is The Atavist, a tiny curio of a business that looks for new ways to present long-form content for the digital age. All the richness of the Web â€” links to more information, videos, casts of characters â€” is right there in an app displaying an article, but with a swipe of the finger, the presentation reverts to clean text that can be scrolled by merely tilting the device.
â€œWe wanted to build something that people would pay for,â€ said Mr. Thompson, who has since switched to being a senior editor of The New Yorker and has had to pull back to consulting for the project.
â€œThe Web is good at creating short and snappy bits of information, but not so much when it comes to long-form, edited, fact-and-spell-checked work.â€
Readers who buy an article from The Atavist and read it on an iPad â€” there are also less media-rich versions for the Kindle and the Nook â€” could begin reading the piece at home and then when driving to work, toggle to an audio version. In each item, there is a timeline navigation that seems natural and simple, and a place for comments that mimics the notes that people put in the margins of complicated, interesting pieces.
The AtavistÂ follows Long Reads, Give Me Something To Read, and Longform.org in finding a place for longer journalism on the Web. The Atlantic Tumblr is especially happy: most of us have a special soft spot for articles longer than, yâ€™know, five tweets.
Read the rest at the New York Times.