TL;DR is now an accepted part of Internet slang. Too Long Didn’t Read is symptomatic of our attention spans…or rather lack of it. But there’s a subtle shift that’s happening beneath the layers of the web. Old-style journalism and storytelling is making a comeback. The revival of long-form reading could be because of the success of tablets like the iPad and Kindle among others which has made reading on the couch and between flights fashionable again. Credit is also due to read-it-later services like Instapaper and Pocket which have helped us keep the best articles stored away for a later read.
Our information diet could certainly do with a fillip. Justin showed us three great places to find long and fulfilling articles to read. Among the three he mentioned, Longreads remains a favorite, but I have also gone out in search of a few more.
Byliner is an attractively designed website – one of the essential qualities for cosy reading I guess – run by Ted Barnett and former Outside editors Mark Bryant and John Tayman. The site’s purpose is to help you easily find your next read and also to make sure it is a good one. Byliner aggregates some of the best stories from around the world and also publishes originals. Byliner covers fiction, non-fiction, short stories, and exclusives across a variety of categories. The stories can be consumed in two hours or less. It’s a mix of free and premium offerings. A premium account ($9.99/month) gives you unlimited access to the originals. You will notice that premium stories have a yellow tag. You can follow your favorite writers and also use the Nightstand feature to save your stories and build up a reading queue.
Aeon is a digital magazine that publishes an original essay every weekday. Aeon also has a section with spoken essays. The essays are meant to rouse our interest and perspective on the world around us. The essays leave room for collaborative discussion and opinion. You can also pitch ideas to the team. Right now I am reading Are coders worth it?, an interesting read if you are caught between the age-old dilemma of work and its true value. An article that draws 169 comments is always worth bit of your time.
Think of Longform.org as an aggregation and recommendation service for new and classic non-fiction from around the web. Keeping to its name, the site says that it considers pieces over 2,000 words that are freely available online. You can send in your suggestions and if it has merits, the site will include the link. The articles cover a broad range of topics from art and culture to war. You can search for articles to read by writer, publication, or tag. Longform also gives you one-touch access for saving the articles and reading them later with Readability, Instapaper, Pocket or sending it to Kindle. The Longform blog also takes a deeper look at stories featured on Longform. You can read the stories at the original source on your browser or take advantage of the iPad app ($2.99).
Narratively was named by TIME as one of the best websites of 2013. The site is a joy to read on. Narratively started by featuring stories from New York, but now it has stories from other cities in America as well. Narratively has an interesting take – they focus on a city’s untold stories around a topical theme for the day. A single story is published every day but it could be a longform article, a photo essay, an audio piece, or even a documentary. Narratively calls it “slow storytelling” or “slow journalism.” Narratively Shorts is a separate area which focusses on briefer content. Contributions from readers, short stories and essays make up the content here.
The Global Mail is a not-for-profit news website (it is free of advertising). The Australian philanthropically funded website stands for original, fearless, independent journalism. It is another of those websites which have veered towards “slowing” down the news cycle, and instead focusing on quality rather than quantity. The news site’s blog is Australia centric but interspersed in between are a few topical global themes like American elections. Don’t forget to take a peek into the multimedia section especially the photo slideshows.
The Browser is a small and relatively obscure website that’s also doing its bit to promote good reading on the web. The site recommends 5-6 selective pieces for consumption daily which it feels are worth our while. The articles that get recommended are mostly free. They may or may not be longform articles though. The About page on the site says about the selections – These pieces are chosen by the editor, mostly from trawling RSS feeds and home pages and Twitter streams; but we do also welcome suggestions, especially when they alert us to new and niche publications.
Few more longform reading websites for your consideration:
Good reading certainly does not end here. These six websites (plus four) are mere morsels. There are sure to be many more on the web where reading tastes are as divergent as the culture of the web itself. Which are the sites you would recommend? Tell us about the undiscovered diamonds in the rough.