Are Tweets And Text Messaging Actually Increasing The Appeal Of Long Form Writing?
from the entirely-possible dept
To hear Nick Carr explain the internet these days, you’d think that it was killing off interest in long form reading. Of course, that’s not actually true. Carr made a classic error in the thesis for his last book, not realizing that a large segment of the population used to do no long form reading at all — and the fact that many of them are now reading something is actually showing increased readership, rather than decreased.
Clive Thompson has now stepped into this debate (not directly naming Carr, but it certainly sounds like he’s referencing him), suggesting that all this tweeting and texting has actually increased an appreciation for long form writing, though potentially decreased interest in middle form writing. His argument is anecdotal, so I’d really like to see some more data on it, but it does match at least some of what I’ve found. The crux of his argument is that people who just have a little bit to write now use things like Twitter to pass that along, rather than writing a short blog post, which are all almost always longer than your typical tweet. But, they do save up the “big ideas” and write much longer posts. And he notes that many bloggers have found that those longer, more in-depth posts, seem to get more attention.
To some extent, we’ve seen the same thing. While we still do have shorter “mid-form” posts, the posts on Techdirt are now a hell of a lot longer than they used to be a few years back, and the longer ones do seem to get more attention. For years, I ridiculously tried to keep to a rule that all Techdirt posts should fit within one paragraph. The idea was to keep them short and focused, but at times, when explaining deeper concepts, this got silly and made for exceptionally cramped blog posts (hello, wall of text). At some point I realized that was pointless, and switched to a style that went to what was appropriate. And it was about that time that Techdirt’s traffic shot up and we actually started building a decent following. I can’t say that there’s direct cause-and-effect, but at least my experience seems to mesh with what Thompson suggests.