Traditional logic says that online stories have to be short and snappy… but some of the web’s best writing happens at length.
We live in an age of very low attention spans, where nobody reads, right?
Well, hopefully not too much, because that’s kept gruel on my table for many years now, but also because I’m always wary of folks who say that they “don’t read” or (and this is an especial hate) those who proudly claim that they “haven’t read a book since they left school”
What’s to be proud about there, exactly? That you’ve robbed yourself of the joy of reading? That you’re not interested in exploring the world around you in words? But I digress…
There’s a lot of really good, quite in-depth writing out there online, and it’s the kind of thing I enjoy finding on a regular basis, even if it’s not actually around the most pleasant of subjects.
Look, here’s two examples out of many I could think of right now. Both quite current, although good long writing can span back decades or even centuries.
Nearly everyone I know has recommended to me that I read that story about the US McDonald’s Monopoly Scam (and, just in case you were thinking of telling me I should, I ALREADY HAVE… ahem).
And really, if you haven’t, you should, because it’s a great, lengthy piece and a very fun read. You can click on this link to read it if you haven’t already.
On the opposite side of the “fun” to read spectrum is this excellent Kotaku piece about Riot Games and the culture of sexism that exists there.
This isn’t comfortable reading, and it’s not short reading either — but it’s exceptionally valuable content that I’d encourage anyone, even if you don’t care about games to read. Particularly the blokes, because I sadly suspect it won’t be “news” to most women out there.
Of course, in today’s media market, it’s very hard indeed. Most readers — even those who love long form content — don’t really want to pay for it.
It’s not a hard and fast rule, but as long as you’re avoiding blather, most longer pieces will naturally take more time to prepare — which means that in real terms, they cost more to present.
As someone who writes for a living, I’m rather hopeful that (across the board), this gets figured out soon.
Because I’m certain that the world wide web will be a weaker place if all we have are chunks of 200 word clickbait.