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