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The UK's innovation foundation Nesta has announced the launch of a quarterly digital-only magazine, with themed issues to be published in 'seasons'.

The publication, called The Long + Short, is intended to create a debate around innovation, and to look at where new ideas come from and how they grow.

Publishing in seasons was a way to adapt the quarterly model to mobile, according to editor Larry Ryan.

"Because it's digital, if you put all your issues [up] on one day like you would when you publish a magazine, it's a lot for people to contend with online or on a tablet or mobile," he told Journalism.co.uk.

He said a season would consist of a series of stories, including longer features and short elements, published over a couple of weeks so readers could attune to the theme of the issue.

"People can dip into it and discover it in a more relaxed way," said Ryan. "Some people will hopefully follow the whole season.

"Others might come through by discovering one story that's been shared on Twitter or on Facebook, and others will be on board from the get-go."

He said seasons would create a sense of cohesiveness and a feeling that everything is part of a collection. The concept was chosen to retain the sense that the publication was a magazine.

"You'd be using the seasons approach if it's something that's slightly more controlled than just throwing everything out there," said Ryan.

long and short on phone
Images from Ruth Killick.

The Long + Short also aims to promote debate around the stories, but will not have a commenting platform on the site itself, focusing instead on social media.

"On Twitter we'll suggest a hashtag for people to use, and on Facebook we'll encourage discussion on individual Facebook posts," he said.

The decision to leave out the comments section was made, according to Ryan, as people are more comfortable engaging in discussions and debates using their own social networks and personal accounts.

He said it "seemed like a more free and more thoughtful way" to stimulate debate, as opposed to having a comment platform at the end of each story.

The discussion on social media could instead be featured in the magazine. Ryan said: "We might try to elevate those comments by creating extra bits of copy in the publication itself, showing what people have said."

The Long + Short will launch on September 9, and will be available for free online and on mobile apps.

The theme of the first issue is 'Re', exploring the concept that innovation can also stem from reinvention or reinterpretation of existing ideas.

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