Announcing Triple Canopy’s Redesign

Upon the publication of Triple Canopy’s tenth issue, we’re pleased to introduce readers to a redesigned and reorganized website, which features a new system for viewing articles. Two and half years ago, when designing the first iteration of Triple Canopy, we asked ourselves how we could slow down reading online to create a richer, more coherent experience than existed on the Internet. Whereas the vast majority of websites relied on vertically oriented, single-column layouts that required readers to burrow through reams of undifferentiated text, we traded the scroll for two historical information-organization tropes: the magazine page and the proto-browser application HyperCard.

This mode of presentation succeeded in eliciting among readers a deep and sustained engagement with the projects we’ve published. But the constraints of the framed page, while productive at first, eventually chafed as we sought to develop projects built around more various, multidimensional, and nonlinear experiences of text and visual media. A design hinging upon the metaphor of the page forefronted our effort to adapt print forms; as the virtual page has proliferated on the Web and mobile devices, we have become more interested in maintaining the essential quality of those forms—the experiences they engender—while shedding their containers. And so we asked ourselves how to insert a greater degree of plasticity into Triple Canopy’s format, in keeping with the increased fluidity of reading, viewing, and interacting online (and the explosion of the interfaces traditionally associated with those activities), while continuing to cultivate a deliberate, considered reading experience.

Ultimately, we decided to jettison the page entirely, atomizing it into a smaller structural unit, the column. Our hope is to restore some of the sophistication of modern, columnar print layouts while avoiding the pitfalls of slavishly translating that trope to the markedly different environment of the screen. This design will facilitate visual narratives that are seamless, yet allow audiovisual objects to maintain their own internal organization, their own autonomy; are expansive in their scope, yet granular in the way they tailor the reader’s interaction with specific elements of an article; are multidirectional yet propel the reader along a discrete horizon. (The article-layout system, Horizonize, is available to the public as an open-source application via GitHub.)

Triple Canopy sits at the crossroads of opposing media phenomena: Video pushes toward the high-resolution and the immersive, while writing—epitomized by the ultra-low-bandwidth, hacker-chic prose style of Twitter—becomes ever more clipped and disjointed, with reading habits following the heuristics of search-engine spiders. Television and movie screens encroach upon the periphery of vision via 3-D and IMAX, while tablet computers and smart phones shrink the windows in which text is delivered. But the variation of experiences these devices produce—however impoverished some may seem—provides ample evidence that the forms of our engagement with writing, with images, with books, with archives, with knowledge generally, remain fluid. Clearly, today’s technologies are playing an outsized role in determining how people engage with new and old media and the contexts in which they are considered. But those technologies need not be overly determined; the fervor accompanying their advent too often belies the productive tensions they have fomented. Triple Canopy’s new design is an effort to capitalize on those tensions, an argument for the high-resolution reading experience.

We hope you enjoy what Triple Canopy has become. Please feel free to email us with feedback (and to report bugs!).