The Awl Network, an avowedly independent collection of web wisdom and ephemera that each month attracts millions to its debonair lair, has grown tired of looking at the slick black nav bar across the top of its sites–and seeing empty space on the right. Tired of it. (Pure supposition on our part, but reasonable.) So in addition to the recent news that the flourishing content network is seeking a new editor-in-chief to manage its burgeoning, there comes the rumor–perpetrated here exclusively–that the wearying space will be filled. Filled with beautiful twinned pilcrows in dashing red. 2paragraphs.com, which shares a respect for quality with Awl co-founders Alex Balk and Choire Sicha, has been badgering Awl publisher (and all-around good guy) John Shankman for months about this empty space. The routine goes like this: 2paragraphs writes and pleads to be included (see graphic below) in the network. 2paragraphs suggests giving a large percentage of the resulting advertising revenue directly to The Awl. 2paragraphs waxes about how current Awl readers will enjoy its short, smart content (a nice complement, btw, to the Awl’s intelligent, sometimes longform explorations of culture). And so it goes.
Mr. Shankman is always cordial. He writes back: “I unfortunately am not sure how that could happen outside of the powers that be deciding to purchase 2 paragraphs.” But what about that whole percentage-of-ad-revenue-thing? “The network doesn’t normally cut deals like that,” the publisher again graciously replies. Perfect! Because this is not a normal situation. The young 2paragraphs has published thoughtful pieces by Rick Moody, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jonathan Galassi, Paul Lisicky, Christine Schutt, Paula Scher and more. 2paragraphs is proof that though there is–as the Awl founders attest–room for long pieces on the web, there is definitely room for smart, short ones! Ah variety, ah spice! And you have to admit, it looks cool, the black nav bar, with the double pilcrows in it. It just does.
*The above image is a completely unauthorized reimagining of theawl.com homepage, with 2paragraphs included in the navigation.