Dynamically Typed

Distill hiatus

Distill, my favorite machine learning journal, is going on hiatus. Maybe I jinxed this last month when I hoped that the founding of Anthropic, a new AI safety research company started by many of the people behind Distill, wouldn’t impact their work on the journal. Oops. Over the past five years, Distill’s innovations of being web-only — not forcing articles to fit into two-column static PDFs — and explicitly caring about publishing explainers and artifacts, have pushed AI explainability to a whole new level. I’ll miss this feed of highly-polished interactive articles a lot, but I also understand the editorial team’s decision here: they found that their mentorship, article template, community, and dedicated authors were more central to the excellent quality of work on Distill, than the fact that Distill is its own journal was. They think the future of Distill-style articles is self-publication, “either on one-off websites or on a hypothetical ‘Distill Arxiv.’” See the editorial team’s blog post for more of their thoughts on this, and some other considerations — volunteer burnout also played a role.