Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Going Long is Still a Great Play

Does the flood of tweets, status updates, and text messages indicate that we are no longer able to contemplate deep subjects and mine them for their richness?

Clive Thompson of Wired Magazine doesn't think so. In "The Short and Long of It" in the January 2011 issue, Thompson thinks that the torrent of short-form thinking is actually a catalyst for more long-form meditation.

News events trigger a blizzard of status updates - half-baked, gossipy tidbits that might not even be true. That's the short take; it's not intended to be a weighty consideration of things, just a snap shot.

On the other hand, the long take - deeply considered reporting and analysis - used to take months or years to produce. Now it is cranked out in longer blog posts in a matter of days after an event.

Thompson finds that the long take also has a long tail - online, searchable databases can provide thoughtful analysis from last week or five years ago that once only lasted for the life of a magazine article.

And that introduces the dilemma of the middle take - reportage and essays reported a few days after a major event, with a bit of analysis sprinkled on top: weeklies like Time and Newsweek stuff. They're neither fast enough to be conversational nor slow enough to be truly deep.

So what about you and your organization? Are you focusing on only one length of communications? Do so at your own peril.

The Internet is once again a game-changer.

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