Slate has always taken an experimental approach to journalism. New formats, new designs, new beats, new media. Human Nature has been one such experiment: a department that covers science and technology from the standpoint of culture and politics.
It's time once again to experiment within the experiment.
If you've followed Human Nature for the last three years, you've seen two formats: essays of around 1,000 words and short news items of around 100 to 150 words. The short items were designed to compress news and debates to save reading time. The downside is that in terms of research and analysis, they've been pretty laborious. And I've often felt that I was compressing and simplifying material somewhat artificially to fit the format. I needed more flexibility to fit the variety of stuff this department covers. So I'm chucking the items. Instead, I'm going to try covering subjects in three ways. I'll still write essays as I come across topics that merit them. For news that's just weird and interesting, I'll supply headline-only links. For stuff that's in between, I'll use this blog. It'll be more loose and conversational than the items were. I'll try to honor the spirit of science, the Internet, and healthy debate: reflective but provisional.
If you're new to Human Nature, here's its basic idea: We live in an age of science and technology. Discoveries about ourselves and the world, coupled with our increasing power to transform both, are changing how we live, what we think, and who we are. Human Nature is a place to learn, think, and talk about these changes. It's not an elite science journal or a medical news digest. It's a place for people who are interested in what's driving politics and society. What's driving them, increasingly, is science.
So let's get started.