Where am I? What is this place?
You're reading the first post on the all-new RA Blog. Editor Caspar Melville explains what you'll be finding here
Good questions web traveller. Let me try and answer them. Assuming you have not sneaked into my office and are peering over my shoulder as I write, you are reading this on the brand new RA Blog. It replaces the New Humanist Blog which we have been publishing on the Blogger platform since 2007. This is part of the Rationalist Association’s new responsive website which will be formally launched next month.
Since our web designers operate using the Agile principle – fewer long meetings and scoping documents, more working software launched early and often – we are going live with this now (another page, RA Today, has been live since November). In due time the site will feature a complete archive of all content from the New Humanist website – articles, podcasts, images, quizzes – presented in a modern, clean design, accessible on any internet-enabled device, optimised for every browser. We want you to be able to stay in contact with us wherever you are. In all probability some of you are reading this on your smartphone or tablet. Those who are on desktops please do visit again on your iPad, Kindle, Nexus 7, Smartphone or whatever, and let us know how it looks.
So why are we doing this? The first thing to say is that although we are eventually moving all New Humanist content on to a Rationalist Association site we are not killing New Humanist. We are just putting it in its proper place – as one, hugely important, part of what the Rationalist Association does. New Humanist magazine remains our flagship product. As editor for seven years I'm proud of what we have done with the magazine and website – we’ve grown our subscriber base by 130%, built a strong and growing presence on the newsstand through WH Smith, and published some damn good content. There are many who think print media is dead, but I’m not convinced, and will do what I can to maintain our print magazine despite the vicissitudes of the publishing industry. But we would be foolish not to explore and exploit the amazing capabilities of the internet to deliver content and build communities of interest, hence the new site.
What we are doing is bringing the Rationalist Association more to the fore. We have a wonderful 120-year history that should be celebrated and revisited. But we also have a future. The values to which we are dedicated – reason, science, humanism, free thought – remain as important as ever. We think it is vital that these values have a strong advocate, looking at the world of ideas, politics and culture through a sceptical secular lens. We also think that there are many people out there who agree with this. We have 5,000 magazine subscribers, more than 18,000 follow us on Twitter, more than 4,000 people attended our annual benefit in London Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, over eight sell-out nights. There is clearly a need and an appetite for what we do – our new website makes it easier to access it.
But it will also ask those of you who read and use it to put your money where your mouth is and become a member of the RA. Though much of what we do will remain free – the blog, podcasts, selected articles – we will have a log-in system and a paywall, behind which some of our content and member-only areas will sit. Those who do join the RA (we’re creating a number of different levels) will get full access, and become part of a community which we hope will grow and evolve and provide the financial support we need to continue and expand our work. In February we’ll launch the site in ‘beta’ mode and be offering free sign-up for a limited period. I hope, when the time comes, you will come on in and have a look, and become a founder member of what we hope to be a lively and influential online community.
For now we hope you enjoy our new blog – please visit often, we have some exciting new initiatives and special guests we want to introduce you to. And visit RA Today – where you are guaranteed new content every day, including weekends and holidays, drawn from our blog, the New Humanist website and outside sources. It’s the perfect place to keep up with what we’re doing.
As always we’re keen to hear what you think – do let us know.