President, Pitchfork Media
Ten years ago, thoughtful, long-form content published only to the Web wasn’t taken seriously. “If it’s important, it’s in print,” was the prevailing notion. Content was tangible and the presentation of it was expected to be pristine. On the Web, that was never entirely possible. But that is changing, and fast.
For us, the essential technology that is omnipresent in all we do, and core to what we are, is a combination of the principles of a technology that has been around for centuries—print—and the one place we’ve always lived—in the browser.
It All Comes Down to the Browser
When you look back on the history of an online publication like Pitchfork, it’s hard to pinpoint one essential technology because everything is always changing. Sure, there’s Instant Messenger, Basecamp, Adobe Creative Suite, and Gmail’s “Priority Inbox”—tools that have had a profound (though incremental) impact on how we are able to both communicate with each other and respond to the constantly changing technologies available to us as they relate to publishing content each day. But these tools don’t feel essential, necessarily; they lack a thesis, a sense of romance. They even feel replaceable. But the browser has remained a constant.
As a Web-native publisher, we have historically been met with restrictions, whether it’s resolution, system fonts, download size or pre-formatted layouts. Standing out with these restrictions wasn’t exactly easy, or possible, until now. With technologies available to us on the Web, and by using the guiding principles of print, we’re redefining the ways content should be published. Suddenly the best practices of traditional graphic design for readability, tension, hierarchy, pacing, flow, photography, even grid systems is there for us to play with. When you combine those with the use of tools such as HTML5 and CSS3, suddenly anything seems possible. We might just be able to do whatever we want. Just like the old days.