The dangers of a „microchunk web culture“

Nicholas Carr has an interesting post titled: Honey, I shrunk the culture

In this post, he goes on about the fact that the new possibilities to deliver and consume content – i.e. through wikis, blogs, youtube-style videos, etc. – we all receive micro-chunked particles of information that increases our propensity to turn into ADD victims. That might be useful for managing that information but it also means, that our attention decreasingly focuses on longform content:

Many of man’s greatest works demand and deserve extended, steady attention. They can’t be boiled down. They can’t be snippetized, widgetized, or otherwise turned into bite-sized morsels. You can’t compress culture into a Zip file.And that’s the danger here. The new medium doesn’t just promote the proliferation of small pieces; it devalues the long form. In fact, it doesn’t even make room for big, extended works. It’s actively biased against them, technologically and economically.

Scary, if we loose the ability to focus on longform content in the future! But at the same time I think you need to differentiate between types of content. I don’t need the news in longform content, as long as the main facts are delivered. Many articles I read in newspapers in the past focused too much on storytelling for news where I was only interested in the main facts.

But: sometimes storytelling is important. Either because there are news that I want to have some background information on (and while newspapers and magazines are generally prognosed to face a difficult future, I still think this deliverance of background information is a good niche for them, when trying to compete with online media). Or, because we are really interested in the story, the athmosphere and the characters, much more than pure facts and the plot (i.e. facts).

I don’t think, for example, that it would delight many people, to read the last Harry Potter through a number of interlinked microchunks on the internet. We want that book, and we will take our time to read it, the more pages, the better!