Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Is There Still Space in Our Digital World for Long-form Writing?


What’s a long read for you?

140 characters?

140 sentences?

140 pages?

So much now on the Internet is being squeezed into the smallest space possible…

Is there a future for reading “Long” pieces??

I stumbled on an article in New York MagazineThe Future of Reading, According to Longform.

Here are just a few excerpts:

Longform.org is one of a handful of websites that made an early bet on the survival of feature writing in a click-bait world.”

“Linsky and Lammer [the founders] say they value readers, writers, and publications equally, but the first two are really at the core of their philosophical pitch. Having begun by aggregating their own picks, now they’re giving readers and writers (who’ll share their own favorites) the tools to do the same: every reader a publisher, every writer a magazine.”

And, just a bit from Longform’s site:

“Longform is proud to be sponsored by Pitt Writers, the University of Pittsburgh’s Writing Program.”

I’ve checked out Longform’s site, looked through the titles of the first 120 articles in Arts and Culture (there are many other categories…) and selected three to link to here. There are only three since I wasn’t looking for stuff that would interest me but what I thought appropriate for this blog’s readership:

George Orwell’s Why I Write

An interview with author Joan Didion

And, The Book On Publishing about “…author, Chad Harbach, who had spent a decade on a novel his friends thought he’d never finish.”

Longform has also recently released an App for iPhone and iPad.

I mentioned it to my Best Friend, author Jane Watson, and she agreed to give it a try and write-up her impressions:

“When I first saw Longform I was sceptical. My iPad is littered with apps that purport to keep me in touch with what is happening in newspapers, magazines, the writing world, the tech world, or any other world you care to name. I have never found any of them to really satisfy my needs.  All they really seem to do is push me information that I do not want to read, at that moment, or that I never wanted to read, in the first place. After a brief period of infatuation I usually stop using them.

“So I approached this app with trepidation.  I began tentatively. I started off with ‘Staff Picks’, went on to ‘Explore’ and then moved into the quite foreign area, for me, of ‘Following’ (I don’t tweet and this sounded a little chirpy to me :-) —  but in the ‘Category’ of ‘Writers to Follow’ I was soon browsing through all the recent articles about, or by, Zadie Smith, I was following several other writers,  and I was beginning to enjoy myself. After feeling a little lost, I began to relish walking through a labyrinth with a meaningful surprise just around each corner. Many categories allow you to choose two ways to examine their information by either selecting ‘Publishers’ or ‘Writers’. In this way you can examine a topic in a more two dimensional way – books, newspapers or magazines that deal with it, or writers who deal with it.

“By the time I found myself actually reading an article about a man who, for decades, went through the trash can of John Updike, collecting a treasure trove of his discarded stuff, in a creepy but perhaps fascinating way, that may have totally violated Updike’s privacy,  I knew I had fallen in love.

“I think that this is an invaluable app for anyone who is seeking to gather information and opinions on a topic. I found the tangents it gently lead me off on very inspiring and thought provoking and Longform could be an app which helps seed some very interesting story ideas for a writer :-)

“Who knows? I may write a story about a guy who loves your writing and goes through your trash can to find where your ideas came from :-)”
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2 responses to “Is There Still Space in Our Digital World for Long-form Writing?

  1. Angela Yuriko Smith September 29, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    I’ll have to look for it. I have so little time to relax and read anymore, bu I do find myself wandering down the paths of uncharted links that always seem to end up in an infomercials about weightloss, sexual dysfunction and/or vaginal mesh. This sounds like the end result might be more rewarding.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai September 30, 2014 at 1:03 am

      I do believe it would be more rewarding, Angela :-)

      Like

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