Issue 4 ran from 25 July 2012 to 4 October 2012.

Here’s What We Got

Orbiting The Silent History are dozens of “field reports”—stories written by readers and connected to specific physical locations. To read them, you have to show up, device in hand, at just the right glowing spot on the built-in map. A reviewer on iTunes is planning a road trip to read as many as he can.

Issue No. 4 focused on evolving forms in journalism, publishing, and content strategy—how these changing patterns shape how we create, and how we absorb information and ideas.

Beyond these questions of design, digital production, and commerce, the book’s relationship to the world is changing—or perhaps simply resolving into view in a higher resolution.

The secret to surviving this next wave of mobile (and whatever comes after it) is adaptive content—content that has been created from the start with the intent that it might need to go anywhere.

On the web, it’s impossible to maintain the fiction that you can gather a single public together in one place. There’s always going to be one link further that you never explored, or one site that is totally different from you. And I think one of the things that the web does to journalism is that it gives lie to the notion that journalism can ever represent “the public.”

If you imagine every book with its own URL, every chapter with its own URL, then you can start to think about the information in books being truly connected in ways it can’t be with print books, or ebooks as we’ve conceived them so far.

In countless organizations, there’s precious little talk about these shifts in form—much less the shifts in practice they’ll require. Which means we’re in danger of leaving too many people behind as we, the already converted, whirl away into the future.

With innovation comes the extinction of things that are known, comfortable, and cherished. Case in point: As I write this column surrounded by shelves of beloved books, my Kindle lurks ominously beside me on the table.

Drop your CMS. No more WordPress. So long Tumblr. Come, trade shrines for community and see what we find.

Updates are everywhere, from the ubiquitous status update to the occasional privacy policy refresh. Most often, we treat these updates essentially as any other post. But it’s time to give the update its due.

Our work is made up of beeps and blips that can be endlessly reworked, so why are our design systems more rigid than ink locked on paper?

Stacks allow you to control the rhythm of an argument at the level of the sentence, the phrase, or even the individual word.

In journalism and publishing, in content strategy and editorial design, and in all kinds of spaces in between, the forms and patterns we’ve relied on are dissolving and re-forming.

Homicide Watch is one of those projects that stays in your head. If you tell or edit or assemble stories for a living, it’s also likely to change the way you see the narratives you’re making.

A Bit More About This Issue

Each issue of Contents runs six to eight weeks, and each is capped by a set of annotations that links to thematically related work and collects the conversation so far.

Our previous issue ran from 18 April 2012 to 7 June 2012, and featured articles including Dorian Taylor’s “No Longer No Sense of an Ending” and Paul Ford’s “10 Timeframes.

Not sure where to begin? Our most popular articles include Angela Colter’s “The Audience You Didn’t Know You Had,” Mandy Brown’s “Babies and the Bathwater,” and An Interview with Tiffani Jones Brown. You might also wish to explore our features, field reports, or columns.

This issue was illustrated by Brooklyn-based designer Meagan Fisher. Meagan is the Art Director at Chartbeat, and writes on her blog, Owltastic.