By Jason Snell
October 28, 2014 2:38 PM PT
Bigger than a Tweet
When I started this site, one of the things I wanted to do was write every day. It’s mostly worked out that way, though some days all I post are extended commentaries on links to other sites. Occasionally I write something long—a couple of thousand words about the Retina iMac, for instance—but often quite a bit shorter than that.
As Andy Baio noted earlier this month, shorter pieces can still bring more depth than a tweet can, even if they aren’t thousand-word opuses. Gina Trapani jumped in with her own take on returning to short-form blogging. Gina’s “new rules for blogging” are amazingly close to the ones I’ve been working with since I started Six Colors, right down to finding a “comfort zone” between the personal and public. (This is why I will make no apologies for posting about baseball and superhero movies.)
When I was at Macworld, the weight of an article could be quite oppressive. If you had something interesting to say, but it really couldn’t bear more than a few paragraphs, you had two choices: Just swallow it and not write anything, or fluff it up with empty filler until it seemed more substantial than it actually was. (If you went ahead and posted a three-paragraph story, you’d just get angry reader comments complaining that they were being ripped off by being induced to click on such a short article.1)
Generally we were not interested in fluff and filler, so those stories would go unwritten. Maybe they’d get salvaged as a tweet. But a lot of interesting, albeit small, stuff would just fall to the floor and be swept away with the other detritus at the end of the day: Amusing, interesting tidbits that would never be seen because they didn’t cross some imaginary threshold.
If you’ve read my stuff for any length of time, you’ll know that I can generate multi-thousand-word epics with the best of them. And I will do so here, no doubt. But like Andy and Gina, I am also enjoying the ability to write items at more modest lengths.
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