Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hitting a wall

I have written the next installment of the story of my little trip to the hospital earlier this month, but I'm debating whether to post it. It's the fun one about what happens to one's (ok my) brain when it meets an unexpected grizzly bear in an Italian hospital learns one has cancer in a foreign country. After that, there's only really the bit where I sat up on the gurney before going into the operating room and yelled at the anaesthetist. After that, life more or less got back to normal.

People don't like big walls of text on a blog. Like the Barbarian Hordes of old, they see a big wall of text and turn away on their short shaggy horses, saying, "Bag this. Let's go check out the latest funny list on Cracked.com".

I recently was on a conference call for LSN and the issue of long articles was brought up. There is some Clever Person who has pointed out that on average, people only read about the first 400 words of an article on the internet. And that's generous. My argument is that this is totally immaterial. No news service that does online news bothers its head about this rule. Even the egregiously populist outfits like the Daily Mail still do 1200 word articles as a regular thing. I said that this is a rule we just have to ignore.

(In fact, it's not a new internet thing at all. The old print papers knew that people only read the headline most of the time, and in rare cases, about the first two paragraphs of which ever article they're interested in. That's why they invented the "inverted pyramid" style that everyone who goes to J-School learns on their first day. It's where you put the first three most important things in the first paragraph, with the most sensationalist thing in the first sentence. Yes, it's true; journalism is totally focused on emotional manipulation of the readers.)

My big rule for blogging is simple: "Post short; post often." Other rules include, "Never reveal what's really going on in your life," and "Always be funny, even especially if its about death and mayhem."

Lately I've been breaking that rule by posting infrequently and putting up long things about my personal life, most of which aren't funny.

I also type too fast. The last time I bothered to clock myself, I came in at 85 words a minute when I'm typing straight out of my head. This means that I can get down nearly everything I'm thinking about, which isn't always a good thing.

So, I don't know, what do you think?

Actually, never mind. I don't care what you think. But I'll let you know that there are only a couple more of the long tedious posts about the hospital visit left to go, so suck it up.



Anonymous said...

Oh, go ahead.

I devoured the other installments from first word to last. After all, you're telling my story, too. Well, except for that yelling at the anesthetist part.

Here in America (jealous?) before wheeling you in for Gort and Dr. Klaatu to rip up your innards, they first hop you up like you've had six pints so that you're laughing uproariously when you arrive.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

They actually had me sign something while lying there on the gurney waiting to be wheeled in. It did nothing for my mood.

PCM said...

Daniel Mitsui recently linked to something on that topic (reading on the internet) in the Atlantic, but it doesn't entirely hold true for me. I don't think I'm alone in having read entire books sitting at a screen, thanks to Project Gutenberg and Google Books.

I thought your long posts contained interesting writing and were very far from tedious.

hyoomik said...

Perhaps call each paragraph a chapter, and give it a title in larger letters. It is hard on my small brain and old eyes to keep track of where I am reading when I have to scroll down without big landmarks.
(verification word "patti")

John said...


Lady, you never wrote anything tedious in your life.

Anonymous said...

I like long things but I read very fast. - Karen