September 10, 2014 Last Updated 11:01 am

Nesta launches new quarterly, digital magazine for the web, tablets, mobile: TheLong+Short

Quarterly ‘issues’ from the UK innovation foundation will be built on a single theme, with content appearing over time rather than published all at once

The UK innovation foundation, Nesta, has begun publishing its own quarterly digital magazine. TheLong+Short was launched simultaneously online, as well as an app for tablets and mobile devices.

The new digital publication is taking an interesting approach to producing its work: while the issues are organized by quarters, called seasons, the actual content will be released over time.

LongShort-seasonone“We are a quarterly publication but instead of releasing an ‘issue’ every there months in one single go, we will have seasons putting out a series of long pieces and shorter items in the course of a number of weeks.”

Each ‘season’ is built around a single theme or idea. Season one is “Re”.

“Most of the time innovation is a “Re” activity: it’s remixing ideas and styles to create a new form; reusing something old in a different context; creating through reinterpretation; reinventing traditional organizations.”

The first installment contains a wide variety of pieces built on this theme, anything from an article on recycling to a recipe that tries to reinvent shepherd’s pie using duck confit and polenta.

The app was released for the iPhone and iPad and is a stand-alone app that is almost exactly as one would see the website. Of course, with a PC, one can not change orientations like a tablet – but otherwise the app edition reads like the web edition.

LongShort-articleIn fact, one would not even notice a difference were it not for the fact that the video online is Flash driven while the tablet version is HTML5. But both are hosted via YouTube.

Like many of the new digital publications, this one mostly uses a one-column design that works well on mobile devices. But there is a more variety here than in your typical “The Magazine” type of look that I find more interesting, and I think more enjoyable.

As you might expect from a publication coming from Nesta, access to the website and the app are free of charge. The app, simply called TheLong+Short, is universal – and at least for now exclusive to iOS.

Apple’s UK App Store currently is featuring a ‘Best of Newsstand’ promotion with 50 titles being included – that is far more than Apple generally includes in such promotions.

It is always interesting to see what titles Apple’s App Store team will select. I see no pattern here other than the fact that most of the publications here are, as you expect, from the UK. There are the British newspapers The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, but also the NYT and WSJ.

Also included are the two titles one always see being promoted: The Loop Magazine and The Magazine. I doubt that any digital-only publications, with the possible exception of TRVL, have been promoted as by Apple as much as these two titles. One might complain of the favoritism that is being displayed, or the fact that neither publication is terribly innovative – especially when it comes to digital design.

But the thing that is the most frightening to me is that it looks like all of Apple’s promotion is not necessarily driving subscriptions, if reports are true. If this is so, then one could look at it one of two ways: either Apple’s promotional powers are overrated, or else it is a sign that Apple is out of touch with what readers want. I honestly don’t know which of these is true.

In any case, there is no equivalent promotion going on inside the US App Store.

One last thing about the App Store: hidden down at the bottom of iTunes on the Mac is a series of links organized by Explore, Features, Help and Manage. One of the links is “browse” which used to allow you to search of all apps in a category. But the function is broken as tapping on a link brings up another search area calling for you to pick a subcategory. But only the Newsstand has subcategories so nothing appears.

This may be a sign that Apple will soon introduce subcategories to all its main categories, not just the Newsstand; or it is simply is another sign that the App Store is broken and mismanaged. I would like to think it is the former, but the latest communication I received from Apple regarding the App Store was extremely disappointing.

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