In Defense of Essay-length Online Writing
Brevity is the soul of wit. True enough. But, information that brings us to a more enlightened approach to understanding the world often needs to “play out” in a substantial interaction of ideas, a “testing” of logical thought-processes as relating to concept and interpretation, an essay. There has long been a presumption that online writing must be brief, due to the “above the fold” bias of attention-span deficient online readers, but I would argue that the medium is actually ideally suited to something very different.
The traditional newspaper or magazine has a limited amount of space, as well as the physical constraints of materials used, weight, shipping, cost, etc., that necessarily interfere with the length and scope of materials contained within. And yet, one can often find far longer profile or investigative pieces printed in the pages of The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair, than one tends to find on even probing, serious investigative online publications.
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