Who we are
Threadable is the brainchild of an entrepreneur and a historian. Peter Kolchinsky received his PhD in virology at Harvard before launching a career in biotechnology investment at RA Capital Management. Tamara Griggs received her PhD in history from Princeton University. She has taught European and American history at Stanford, the University of Chicago, UMass-Boston, and Harvard. They share a love of history and desire to democratize reading.
First, some history. In 1949, Mortimer Adler published a popular book for the lay reader with a rather elementary title. In How to Read a Book, Adler called the highest level of reading “syntopical reading” by which he meant the kind of reading that gathers passages on the same topic from different works and different authors. Syntopical reading actually stretches all the way back to the Renaissance when enterprising humanist scholars hired artisans to construct mobile book wheels that resembled water mills. Rather than breaking their backs trying to lift one book after another, they could now sit comfortably while scrolling back and forth – both mentally and physically – between multiple books.
Adler called this “the most active reading you can do.” When you read one book, he wrote, “you put yourself in a relation to it of disciple to master,” but when you read multiple books, “you must be the master of the situation.” Scholars learn this kind of comparative reading as part of their training and through independent research, but we believe that there is an opportunity to provide the lay reader with the same mastery through the creation of a new eReader application, a digital version of the sixteenth-century book wheel.
Computation is already changing how we read, but we haven’t yet harnessed the full power of electronic texts. The standard eReader apps treat books as enclosed individual boxes; you can read, highlight, & annotate, but you are still stuck within the pages of a single book. We want to enable readers to make meaningful connections between their books. To that end, and with the help of DEV, a nonprofit run by students at Harvard, we are developing Threadable, an app that will network books together and allow readers to get more out of their online library. On Threadable, readers will be able to follow pathways through the most significant books and documents in American history, which come pre-loaded in the Threadable library.
Why we need you
We are building a network of freelance historians who have experience writing for a non-academic audience. You will create “threads” on specific historical topics or debates. These threads should guide readers through a series of well-known books and historical documents in order to answer a question, solve a problem, reveal multiple perspectives, or to tell a quick story that is not told by any individual work (and which only emerges in the act of comparing and contrasting passages from more than one source). Threads should deepen the reader’s understanding of American history and simultaneously invite them to explore the books and documents that are linked together.
We truly believe that the key to Threadable’s success is not in the app, but in the talents and judgment of Threadable’s core team of curators who create the threads. If you enjoy helping a wide readership discover the layered richness of history, we hope you’ll consider joining us.
- M.A., or a PhD in American history or American Studies
- Expertise in the foundational documents and scholarship of the early republic (1776-1850)
- A love of history & previous experience in writing for a non-academic audience (online magazines, blogs, radio, or newspapers).
- High responsiveness to and comfort with feedback and edits.
- [Bonus] Experience teaching history at the secondary or college level
- [Bonus] Online access to a research university’s library collection
What’s in it for you
- You will be well compensated.
- You have the flexibility & independence of working remotely.
- You can stay up-to-date with the latest works in your field of interest and expertise.
- Most importantly, you will be part of a new and exciting venture in digital history.
If interested, send a brief email explaining your background and a resume to Tamara Griggs at firstname.lastname@example.org