Happy Birthday, Harper’s Index! Lewis Lapham’s widely-emulated-but-never-fully-replicated index—based on the (correct) assumption that “numbers can be made to tell as many stories as a crooked lawyer or an old comedian”—turns the big 2-5 this year. And rather than celebrating that particular milestone in the traditional fashion (drunkenly, with perhaps some kind of angsty quarter-life crisis thrown in for good measure), Harper’s, ever the class act, is instead celebrating itself by way of a party that we’re all invited to: It’s made its famous index…searchable.
Yep: you can now search 300 issues’ worth of Indexes (or, to be Laphamian about it, 12,058 lines’ worth of them) for such terms as existentialism, beer, and journalism. It’s potentially useful, but more to the point, it’s really fun. And weirdly addictive. (Hours one could waste searching the online index: many.)Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.