Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 28, 2013.

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The Ascender is a digital magazine exploring futurist thought and innovation through powerful, investigative journalism.

WHAT IS THE ASCENDER?

The Ascender is a digital magazine using investigative, narrative journalism to explore futuristic thought and innovation across cultural genre. Through examining the innovative trends, people, places and ideas that forge the future, The Ascender will seek to answer the questions: What is the future? What does it hold for us? How can we create a better future for ourselves?

Every two weeks, The Ascender will publish an average of five stories with classic magazine feature length (approximately 1800 - 2500 words) tied to our theme. Our goal is to provide futuristic insight with evocative, immersive stories in a sleek, efficient form. 

WHY THE FUTURE?

The future extends across the boundaries of human thought and by its nature is always evolving, so it is unique and ideal for producing a boundless variety of exceptional and engaging stories.  From film to transportation, from art to engineering, The Ascender will explore dynamic futurist ideas across cultural genre and subjectThrough examining these stories, our mission is to gain a deeper understanding of human nature, how we live now, and effectively create a BETTER future.

WHY NOW?

While the digital revolution has greatly expanded our access to information, it has also created a more convoluted publishing landscape and diluted journalistic impact. Today's readers are bombarded with an overwhelming variety of content sources and options while journalists have become marginalized at the expense of story depth, meaning, and clarity. The Ascender addresses this problem providing an engaging, powerful, streamlined thought-vessel for readers while offering a unique platform for the most talented journalists. 

WHY A DIGITAL MAGAZINE?

The Ascender is about the future and is itself the future of journalism. The future is a big idea that requires a form that enables navigating the subject matter in a powerful, expansive way with clarity, focus, and maximum impact. A digital magazine with longer-form stories is a perfect platform to execute the deep, ongoing dialogue that the future dictates. Some other major advantages of a digital platform are:

  • Global Reach - The Ascender takes on issues and ideas with global scope and affect. Utiilizing digital and mobile technology allows us expand our reach to readers of the future no matter where they are in the world. 
  • Immersive ExplorationThe Ascender will use  select media (photography, video, illustration, infographics) taking advantage of the immersive interactive qualities of the the web and tablets (high resolution, touch, immersive) that convey the stories in a richer, more profound way but without detracting from the storytelling. 
  • A More Efficient Publishing Schedule -  A digital magazine allows us to publish at a more efficient pace than print, maximizing reach without compromising content or design quality. 
  • An Open Forum with Our ReadersThe Ascender is built for readers who care deeply about robust, insightful journalism and a user-centered approach will be at the core of everything we do. We will use digital technology to build a strong community developing an open conversation with our readers to elicit feedback and spurn continual growth. 
  • A Wide Swath of Voices The future is a broad subject and a digital magazine give us superior editorial flexibility to connect with a large cross-section of journalists in order to fully explore The Ascender's futuristic themes and ideas to the fullest.
  • Future-proof Adaptive Design The Ascender is built specifically with tablets and mobile reading devices in mind, but we'll also employ adaptive design, open source and web technologies to ensure The Ascender reaches platforms, devices, and digital publishing forms of the future.

THE CONTENT

The Ascender is a global, futurist, general interest magazine focusing on storytelling through journalistic, investigative, narrative essay. Crossing genre and thought, we will utilize various forms that may fall under this umbrella including: process exploration, character study/expose´, cultural futurism, interview, speculative thought, personal essay, and the occasional photo essay. Areas of particular interest are design, music, sustainability, science, publishing, technology, art, and travel. 

The Ascender will also occasionally publish select fiction pieces related to our theme.

OUR DESIGN IDEAL

The Ascender will adhere to a modern, minimalist design that emphasizes and enhances content. Since we believe that technology should work on behalf of story, we won't inundate readers with blurbs, smaller sections, social media feeds or other confusing elements that detract from the narrative. Instead, we will implement a clean, beautiful, navigable interface that allows ease of use in an ad-free environmentThe Ascender will use select, beautiful and powerful photography, video, motion, illustration and visualization to provide a rich compliment to the content of the stories while maintaining maximum clarity.

THE FORMAT AND DEVELOPMENT

Initially, The Ascender will be available as an iPad and iPhone application subscription on iOS through Apple's Newstand and available for purchase on the web at www.theascender.org. Additionally, we have plans to make The Ascender truly cross-platform with distribution to Android, Kindle and a variety of other devices and platforms. All of The Ascender's design development will be executed internally by our team. 

OUR TIMELINE

Our first issues are currently in the works and we will use your contributions to produce and deliver the first 4 issues (2 months) of The Ascender. Your pledges will also allow us to build the Insider community and establish the foundation for The Ascender's long term sustainability and growth. Our launch date is scheduled for August 15, 2013. 

HOW WE WILL USE THE MONEY:

Specifically, we will be using your contributions in the four following areas:

  • Paying Journalist Contributors - We believe in finding and paying for superior journalists who are masters at their craft. The majority of your pledge money will go to paying talented writers, photographers and other contributors to The Ascender
  • Design and Development - At The Ascender, we see ourselves not only as a digital magazine but as a technology company. We will use your pledges to invest in design and development of latest digital publishing technologies to make sure The Ascender is accessible across platform and reading devices.
  • Production and Operation Costs - We will use your pledges to pay for production, operations, and a variety of tools that will help us bring The Ascender to life. Some of these cost areas include software hosting, accounting, communications, design and distribution.  
  • Marketing Finally, we will invest your pledges in marketing initiatives that help us reach, build, grow and sustain The Ascender's vision and readership base.

REWARDS

We have some beautiful and engaging rewards lined up for our backers including subscriptions, T-Shirts, community memberships, custom hoodies, invites to our launch part, and a chance to design a custom Ascender anthology.  Please help us, get an amazing reward, and become part of The Ascender's future! 

The Ascender Sticker
The Ascender Sticker
The Ascender Cap
The Ascender Cap
The Ascender Tee
The Ascender Tee
The Ascender Hoodie
The Ascender Hoodie

___________________________________________________________________

PLEASE JOIN US AND HELP US SPREAD THE WORD!

To make The Ascender a reality, we need your kind contributions. Please help us reach our goal by donating and spreading the word across your networks. Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up on our mailing list for news leading to the launch.  Every bit helps and this is just the beginning of a long friendship we hope to forge with our backers and readers.  Always feel free to reach to us at anytime with questions or concerns. We absolutely welcome your feedback. We sincerely appreciate your support!

Website: www.theascender.org     Email: hello@theascender.org

___________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

The Ascender video was directed, shot, and edited by Hal Phillips of Bad BabysitterA special thanks to Hal and Meg for the warm hospitality in New Orleans. 

VIDEO: Time Lapse of Earth from August - October 2011, courtesy NASA International Space Station. License: Public Domain ● To New Horizons(1940) - by Jam Handy Company. License: Public Domain

VIDEO MUSIC : Sonata No.14 - Ludwig van Beethoven performed by The Wedding Band. License:Public Domain ●  Humanizing Technology -  by alkis. License: Royalty Free, Regular.

COVER IMAGES: Next Demension - by H. Koppdelany ● Full and Empty - by Kai Nicolas Schaper ● Curious Design - by Steven Sandner ● Wind Turbine - by STE Trackside. License: Creative Commons

INTERIOR IMAGE: Radhuset Station - by imagea. License: Creative Commons

APP IMAGES: Alec and the Cage - © Jeff Milisen, Kampachi Farms, LLC ● Aquaculture - © Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc. ● All other app images courtesy of NASA. License: Public Domain

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

THE FINAL PROMISE

Hi, I'm Johnston. I'm the editorial director and publisher of The Ascender. I just wanted to write a note to all of our backers, future readers, and friends everywhere about our dedication to The Ascender's vision and mission.

As the media world has gone through a great paradigm shift and free digital content has become commonplace, there has been a pervasive notion that readers are reluctant to regularly pay for content. We believe that they will, gladly, with one large caveat: That the reading experience and the content be exceptional.

Without a doubt then, the fundamental key to our success (and our greatest challenge) is acquiring and paying efficiently for the best journalistic talent in order to create a superior, meaningful, and memorable experiences for our readers. If we are able to do this (which we strongly believe we can) then we will be able to build, grow and retain a strong, sustainable readership for many years to come.

While there are inherent risks and challenges to every new venture, we have a unique vision with a dedication to combining adaptable, innovative technologies with high journalistic standard. As an industry is being reborn, this is an exciting time for creative publishers to step to the forefront. We in the media have the power to forge a new path by applying simpler business models, new channels of distribution, and smoother forms of consumption. Our goal at The Ascender is to do our part in shaping this new horizon and we are confident in our ability to execute our vision. Moreover, we have an unwavering commitment to ensuring every issue of The Ascender be an entertaining, thought-provoking, and inspiring experience for our readers. That's a promise.

Thank you and ever forward,

Johnston

johnston@theascender.org

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    THE STICKER: On the fridge, on your car, on your back when your friend plays "the sticker-on-the-back" trick. Either way, people are going to ask: Where'd you get that?! Comes in your choice of red, green, blue or Ascender black.

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    THE SUBSCRIPTION. We're building something incredible and since you're one of the first onboard the train to tomorrow, you're subscribed to 6 issues (3 months) of The Ascender. For real! Plus, the sticker.

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    THE INSIDER: Enter the new hub of futurism! As the ultimate compliment to the magazine, The Ascender is building an exclusive futurist online community, the Ascender Insider. As an Insider you'll shape the future of The Ascender and journalism itself. Engage and chat with editors on story ideas, get behind the scenes multimedia footage, watch interviews with contributors, engage with other readers, and gain access to special offers and events. And that's just the beginning. Let your future freak flag fly! Plus, the sticker and the subscription.

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    THE CAP: It's the future. On your head. Sport The Ascender logo on a ball cap around town and keep the future's sunshine in your heart, not in your eyes. Plus, the sticker, the subscription and the Insider.

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    THE T-SHIRT: You are the future of style. Or that's what it will feel like when you put on The Ascender tee anyway. Made with love for comfortable, futury goodness. Futury isn't a word yet. But it will be. Plus, the Insider, subscription, and the sticker.

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    THE PARTY AT THE MOONTOWER: Let's party! You'll get an exclusive, commemorative letterpress invitation to our launch party in Austin with guest of honor privileges ALL night long.The party will be a grand affair at a classic Austin night spot with a new futurist theme, live music and a bunch of awesome people. But you knew that already. Plus, a party favor basket, the tee, the subscription, the Insider, and sticker.

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    THE HOODIE: Need futurist street cred? Nothing will give it to you faster than The Ascender hoodie. Fully functional and inspired by forward thinkers of the highest order. Get your hood on! Plus, the subscription, the invite, the Insider and the sticker.

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    THE COVER PRINTS: The Ascender will have some epic, select, and iconic imagery from the best photographers and visual artists from around the globe. Every month, we'll send you hi-definition 11x17 hard poster prints from each bi-monthly issue. All images will be autographed by the creator of the image. If you want them sent as a collection after six months or a year we can do that too. Plus, the subscription, the tee, the invite, the Insider and the sticker.

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    THE CUSTOM ANTHOLOGY: Harness your futurist editorial mind and design you're own personalized Ascender hardcover anthology. You'll control the editorial process choosing your favorite stories from the first year (or six months), picking the paper, selecting design elements, and choosing a dedication message from our staff. To boot, choose your favorite cover image from the past year or we'll create a special one in your honor. It'll be a one of a kind and all YOUR doing. Your coffee table's single days are over! Plus, a year subscription, the invite, the hoodie, the Insider and the sticker.

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    THE PRINT GLOSSY: Sure, The Ascender is a digital magazine, but you're special, so we're going to create a unique, beautiful printed version in your honor. Once a month for a year, you'll get both bi-weekly issues of The Ascender bound and delivered in high-end, glossy magazine designed specifically for the printed page. How's that for holding the future in your hands? Plus, a year's subscription, the invite, the hoodie, the Insider and the sticker.

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    THE LIFER: A lifetime subscription to the Ascender! You're part of our grand vision now and forever. Much like the mob, there's no getting out. Plus, a year's subscription, the invite, the hoodie, the Insider and the sticker. Futurebrain!

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    THE SPONSORSHIP: We'll have clean, beautiful, one-at-a-time brand sponsorships in The Ascender Insider community and on our website. Your brand/company will get a solo sponsorship for a month and connect with our savvy, global readership. Plus, the lifer, the prints, the hoodie, the invite, the Insider and the sticker.

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    THE JOURNAFUTURIST: The Ascender is about the future and we're also very passionate about the future of publishing. Oh, the irony! Great innovation starts in the sharing of ideas with the people making it happen...and you're one of them! With this pledge, you'll be a founding member of The Ascender's First Annual Journafuturist Workshop. We'll fly you into Austin and put you up to attend a day long mind meld with thought leaders, publishers, journalists, and designers as we discuss the future of storytelling. Plus, the lifer, the anthology, the hoodie, the invite, the Insider, and sticker.

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