Many people like the sound of their own voice. Still others enjoy the look of their own words on a screen. And a lot of them.
I love reading about new ideas. Grappling with fresh concepts and perspectives challenges me to look at the world differently. But, there’s a catch. I’m not a fan of long articles. I’m also generally opposed to wordy blogs. Apparently, I’m not alone.
A recent post from Slate called “You Won’t Finish This Article” statistically proves that most people rarely read an entire article online. Many never even get past the first few paragraphs. But the guy that wrote this piece didn’t just choose a clever title. He chose an accurate one. You really won’t finish his article.
|photo credit: kennymatic via photopin cc|
Why? He thinks it’s a new cultural trend of mass skimming. He’s wrong.
Bottom line: his piece is over 2,000 words. It’s too long.
I spend about an hour every morning searching for interesting articles and blogs to talk about on our radio show. This takes me to lots of different sites. I rarely read entire articles, and often completely skip stories that are too long. It’s not because I’m lazy. It’s largely due to the fact that we all consume online information differently than we consume books.
When reading a book, you’ve carefully chosen the author and the topic. You’ve also made an informed commitment to the length of the book. When you decide to sit down and read it, you’re prepared to devote an extended period of time to it.
Reading articles online is much different. We set aside a block of time for browsing through a long list of resources. If we find an exceptionally great article, we might read to the end. Otherwise, we’ll read as long as necessary to get the information we need. Or as long as we’re interested. Then we move on.
So I’m calling for a collective condensing of words online. A great writer should be able to get an introduction, thesis, body and conclusion composed in about 500 words or less. Anything more should be edited and trimmed. Get to the point as quickly as you can. You may not like this limited word count, but nobody will read much more than that anyway. So what’s the point?
In the end, anyone with a college education can pound out 1,000 words or more on a topic. It takes artistic expertise to communicate ideas in only as many words as are absolutely necessary.
Oh, and for the record, this blog post is 426 words long.