People prefer blogs over books. While there may be many different reasons for this preference, my guess is that the most important blog characteristic is that most blogs are short — probably less than 500 words.
Shorter is better.
First, let’s examine books. According to an Associated Press Poll and The Washington Post, “One in four adults read no books at all in the past year. Of those who did read, older people (mostly women) were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.”
Similar studies tell a story that the average American reads one book a year and only half bought a book last year. Books are in trouble. (Note to self: I may need to reconsider this book writing thing.)
Blogs are a different beast:
• 133,000,000 blogs have been indexed by Technorati since 2002
• 346,000,000 people read blogs daily (worldwide)
• 77% of active Internet users read blogs
• 81 languages are represented in the blogosphere
My theory is that shorter is better in our “Adult ADD culture” — time is just too precious to allocate it to any written material beyond 500 words. Blogs fit our pace.
Word quantity can be a significant weapon — ask any lawyer. If you want to confuse someone, just throw a lot of words at them. For instance, the current health care bill that just got through the House of Representatives was over 400,000 words long. My bet is that you did not read it and nor will you. If you did, you would only be confused anyway.
Yet, if you want to communicate, brevity is everything. For example, the Gettysburg Address was only 272 words. Most Americans have read it and many understand it (more or less). Lincoln would make a great blogger.
People prefer blogs because blogs are shorter. Long live blogs.
John Bradley Jackson
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