Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In Praise of Long Reads

There's been a lot in the media recently about how the Internet has reduced our attention spans and altered our memory. In fact these views have become so commonplace that you'd be forgiven for thinking we were all becoming mindless idiots, with the attention spans of goldfish, unable to concentrate on anything longer than a tweet.
    Well, whilst all this has been going on, in parallel, and totally contrary to this meme, has been the spread of the curation of long form articles on the Web. Long form basically means an article usually at least 2,000 words long or about 8 pages. Think of them like in depth magazine pieces you might read in the New Yorker, The Atlantic or a newspaper's weekend supplement. I've found over the last year I've been reading an increasing number of these, usually on my iPad. So I thought I'd take a moment to share some links I use, which you may find useful.

  • Longreads - the best long form stories on the web, is an excellent curated list. updated daily
  • The Long Good Read - handpicked articles updated twice daily and indexed by. category
  • Give Me Something to Read - just like the above, you're getting the idea now.
Indeed, long reads seem to be becoming so popular that magazines, like The Atlantic and Mojo, are now using it as an index tag for their own content. In conjunction with any long read I usually use the excellent Instapaper app on my iPad (there's a web version as well), which is great for stripping away the original tricksy web formatting and presenting your long read as simple text, on a plain background, in a clear readable font. Instapaper is great on the iPad; you can load it up with pre-downloaded content for when you're travelling or you can settle down at home in your comfy chair with a drink and some background music for a good long read. Bliss!