How Short-forms Can Work?
Work-in-progress, Jessica AI Simulation, A newsletter about fonts and creativity
Welcome to The Longform Addict, a weekly newsletter where I share my interest in writing long-form, including Work-in-progress, Medium posts, interesting reads, and newsletter/website discoveries.
Work in Progress
(My train of thought for an upcoming post about short-forms and why they matter.)
Short-forms are often given bad rap. Most people view them as lazy work, without enough research or examples to do a topic justice. They just add to the noise of content online without saying anything new. This is not exactly true. If you take a bird eye view, you’ll see that short forms hold many merits.
One such merit is that short-forms can serve as teasers for bigger work. For example, you can post a bunch of tweets or tease an idea in emails. If people show interest, you can start to dig in more and write a full post about it. By listening to feedback, you can avoid the guesswork and write what people want to read.
Moreover, a lot of people don’t have time to read the whole thing, these teasers or blurbs of longer work come in handy as they help them decide to dig in further or not.
Yet, for short-forms to work, they should be an asset of its own. Don't be lazy and produce fragmented ideas. Try to offer as much value in your short-form as in the longform. Because if people don't buy into your shorter work, they're not going to buy into the longer work either.
Furthermore, some types of content are not intended to be long. For example, news about a product launch or a scientific discovery can be wrapped up in less than 200 words. Still, they are important pieces of content that keep people informed.
Finally, a lot of short-form writings are brilliant. If you look at writers like Seth Godin or Ben Settle, they're excellent at delivering ideas in a clear yet concise way. Short-forms can be as powerful as long-forms.
They can tweak, bend, influence our thinking the same way a 10,000-word essay does. In many cases, they are much harder to produce as it takes great effort to distill a complex idea into just a few words. Being lengthy, on the other hand, is pretty easy.
I once came across an analogy which I really like — if longforms are like 3-course meals, short-forms are appetizers. Short-forms trip things off to the most basics. It’s better to consume when you’re already full.
Many people worry short form is bad for SEO, but isn't it ironic to let a machine determine the quality of our writing?
Writing is a human thing. The search engine is useful for matching relevant content with searcher's intent but it's up for the reader to decide if the piece is good or not. Also, what if the machine is wrong? Just because a post doesn't comply with the algorithms means that it's bad?
The SEOers may be right that long-form writing performs better in statistics. But there's no guarantee long-forms are always good. In fact, these are face value, the real benefit remains what the writing brings to the reader.
This doesn't mean short form can't be bad. Short forms are bad when they don't serve a purpose—When the writer abuses his creative asset to amplify the noise of the Internet. When his intent is not to provide helpful information, only to make some bucks. When he fails to do the research he is supposed to do or avoid painstaking edits. When he is too lazy to smoothen the language, his writing becomes stiff. When he is a hypocrite, giving advice for the sake of giving advice. When he writes for clickbaits without being able to meet the promise, short-forms are bad. Though this is not reserved for short-form but any form of writing.
Dear Writer — Your Life Isn’t Boring and It’s Worth Sharing (David B. Clear | 6 mins): Sometimes the best stories are not about the craziest adventures but ordinary happenings in your life.
Existential Crisis (Tarun Gupta | 7 mins): When you don't do what you're supposed to do, you leave the world, including yourself in desperation. A piece that makes you nod your head with every single line.
Scientific Research Links Creativity to Mental Illness: But Is it True? (Austin Hackney | 7min): There’s lots of evidence and scientific research suggesting the connection between creativity and mental illness. But perhaps it’s not all black and white. Even the mad artist seeks out moments of sanity to create: We have the relationship between creativity and mental illness exactly wrong; 'crazy' people don't create great art unless they are getting better. — Kurt Vonnegut
Longread of The Week
This is very Black Mirror-like. Imagine you can talk to your loved one who has been gone for years on the computers, not just through texts, but also with feelings and memories.
This is not the first time AI simulation surprised us. Digital Einstein coming out earlier this year can answer any of your questions about his life and work. Chat to him here. Will there be a day textbooks would be removed and replaced by a more charismatic AI?
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