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Posted at 8:05 AM ET, 01/21/2011

Story pick: A growing taste for long form?

By Steve Hendrix

Amid a blizzard of Tweets, blurbs, blogs and short takes, Wired's Clive Thompson sees signs of love for, of all things, long-form journalism. It may be wishful thinking from an old magazine hand who has typed his share of multi-thousand-word thumbsuckers (and I say that as an admirer of both Clive Thompson and lengthy thumbsuckers), but he sees signs of an appetite for long pieces within the very maelstrom of bits and twits that would seem to be killing it. All the brief stuff, in other words, may be creating a craving for something more substantial. And the producers of the brief stuff are themselves going long...

This trend has already changed blogging. Ten years ago, my favorite bloggers wrote middle takes—a link with a couple of sentences of commentary—and they’d update a few times a day. Once Twitter arrived, they began blogging less often but with much longer, more-in-depth essays. Why?

“I save the little stuff for Twitter and blog only when I have something big to say,” as blogger Anil Dash put it. It turns out readers prefer this: One survey found that the most popular blog posts today are the longest ones, 1,600 words on average.

Even our reading tools are morphing to accommodate the rise of long takes. The design firm Arc90 released Readability, an app that renders website text as one clean, ad-free column down the center of your screen—perfect for distraction-free long-form reading—and it got so popular that Apple baked it into the current version of Safari. Or consider the iPad: It’s been criticized as “only” a consumption device, but that’s the whole point; it’s superb for consuming long takes.


By Steve Hendrix  | January 21, 2011; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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