Burst Culture: what it means to get your culture in short bursts

Warren Ellis has just posted an essay on "Burst Culture" about the way that we have come to read and write the web. He tackles the notion of a "web magazine" and looks at what has and hasn't worked — and decries the notion that the web is shortening our attention spans. Good, thought-provoking reading.

* Comics Foundry retreated from its position as a web "magazine" (though it was aping print magazine elements, rather than adopting the medium of the web fully, as I recall) to try and become a print magazine. And was summarily rejected for distribution by Diamond. They're out time and money on a project that would have seen them, if successful, available in fewer venues and read by fewer people than if they'd stayed accessible by anyone with an internet-ready device.

* I love print. I love magazines that commit and pay for long articles and long fiction. The web rewards neither approach. It's a packeted medium, a surf medium. Short bursts are the way to go. The web isn't a replacement medium – it's *another" medium. That said, if your concept of a magazine is something designed in one-page bursts, or three pages that only carry 500 words due to the mass of images, then, really, you're not doing anything the web can't do better, are you?

* Every day, millions of people download single lumps of data that take them three minutes to consume. They're called mp3s. It's a burst culture. Embrace the idea for a while.

* Bursts aren't contentless, nor do they denote the end of Attention Span. If attention span was dead, JK Rowling wouldn't be selling paperbacks thick enough to choke a pig, and Neal Stephenson wouldn't be making a living off books the size of the first bedsit I lived in