The New York Times, for example, created this famous article, ‘Snow Fall,’ which uses digital to its full potential — and won a Pulitzer Prize for it — but it was also hand-coded and took months to create.
‘It’s become a symbol of the potential of journalism, but also the barrier to how something like that could be made,’ one developer told Tech Crunch. I’m using this example for two reasons: one, because it is a great illustration of some possibilities of online publishing, and two, that it also shows little understanding of what we need to do with online publishing: not just create content, but to build platforms.
Why is print still traditionally more committed to long-form writing? For a sense of scale, Google tops the list: an average user spends on it a day.
And is it related to the way we perceive of economies of attention online? Alexa — the Amazon-owned service that publicly estimates website metrics — gives the average daily time on as three minutes and twenty-nine seconds. We spend half an hour a day on Facebook and five minutes and twenty-two seconds on (the first news/content site on Alexa’s top 500 list, ranked #57, way after all social networks and a number of local Google pages, including Google Russia and Google Spain).
The two popular read-it-later apps Instapaper and Pocket (that allow you to save articles from your browser into an offline-enabled app) were started in 20 respectively and the @longreads Twitter account and hashtag were started in 2009.
But that trend reached a level of maturity in the discussions around it in 2011.
And with that comes the interesting assumption that rigor is built into length.
That connection is the result of the gruellingly slow shift toward digital publishing and the presumptions (not to say prejudices) concerning the quality of what is published online.
Do we need more online content or more recommendations and ways to organise our online reading lists?
I would argue that what we need is a shift in attitude toward reading online.