The New Republic

The Plank is Back

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They say that blogging is overin fact one of our own writers recently made the argument. That it was just a fleeting moment in the history of opinion journalism, ultimately doomed by far more efficient modes of expression. More specifically, the theory goes, the blog post was killed by the tweet, which has allowed for further compression of thoughts and the expression of so many more of them. 

At the New Republic, we reenacted our own version of this small saga. When we remade our website in January, we shelved our old group blog, The Plank. Between our essays and Twitter feeds, it was hard to imagine much intellectual space (or writerly time) for short commentary. We theorized that a blog post could either be reduced to 140 characters or expanded to a full-fledged piece.

Then something strange happened. A few months later, we found ourselves unexpectedly nostalgic for The Plank. The blog had been a common room for the staff, where we could argue with each other. What’s more, The Plank had served as one of our most important vehicles for engaging the worldto quickly comment on events and to comment on the commentary about those events. It turns out that we misjudged the lasting value of the blog: we had grown accustomed to the form, to its casual tone and polemical potential; there was an essayistic style that we belatedly discovered was indigenous to the genre.

Fortunately, the beauty of the Internet is that it has the power to resurrect. So, today, we present the new, old Plank. It will be in some ways different from its last incarnation. In addition to The Plank's venerable obsessions with politics and policy, it will feature more writing on science, society, technology, high culture, and the popular stuff. But it's still the kind of place you can have a robust, many-sided debate about a topic like, say, the end of the end of blogs.

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