The Economist, and LongReads

Is reading online making us more prone to reading shorter and shorter articles and pieces of writing? I wonder sometimes, at least from my own personal experience.

The Economist (“Reading online: Words, words, words”) has an excellent column on, including its Twitter hashtag origins, and what a long read is (“Mr Armstrong defines a long read as between 1,500 and 30,000 words. Any shorter and it is an article; any longer, and you might as well call it a book.”)

With so many things to potentially read online, websites which do a good job of picking out the interesting from all the rest have a lot of value. So how does LongReads work?

“Curation is key, says Mr Armstrong, at least as customers go. Longreads is an attempt to fish out nuggets of literary genius from the preponderance of online dross. These need not be and, indeed, typically aren’t the most popular stories. Suggestions, some coming from followers tweeting the #longreads tag, are posted on its website, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and in e-mail newsletters. Longreads also automatically constructs a user page on its site for any Twitter user (identified by an @tag) who employes the #longreads tag.”

The Economist mentions some of the dollars and sense behind online reading, reading services, and what kind of impact it might mean for publishers of that online reading content.

And while we’re on the subject, Instapaper and Read It Later are absolutely essential websites/apps in terms of keeping organized with your online reading.


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

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