The Things We Read Later

The year in longform. Or 20 things you should read over the holidays. posted on

While the resurgence of longform journalism as a Thing People Talk About has been rolling in earnest for the last couple of years, it seemed to reach new heights in 2012, with more apps, more sites, more resources, and more conversation dedicated to longform journalism and writing.

But what are people actually consuming from this supposedly reinvigorated machinery of authorship, churning out products that contain no fewer 2,000 words? The most-saved and most-clicked lists from Pocket — an app that lets you save articles to read later, and affiliated with Longreads — and Longform — a site that curates longform nonfiction, and has an app powered by Readability — spell it out precisely.

Peter Souza/Official White House photo

Pocket’s most-saved pieces are dominated by tech stories (and in particular, Mat Honan); I suspect because it’s the best free read-later app on Android, and a read-later app + Android = a heavy nerd contingent, and these are the kinds of things they’d save.

Longform’s featured pieces are chosen by editors looking to cover a wide swath of genres, and its readers are a more diverse crowd than the kind of people who’d necessarily have or use a read-later application, so the things they click on the most vary topically. (Though obviously cam girls, Nickelback hatred, and the Internet’s best terrible person are all topics that would fall squarely in line with what an Internet-native audience would want to read. And sex still sells, given the top story.)

I wonder, though, if things about the Internet and things that the stereotypical “Internet crowd” like are going to so thoroughly blanket these lists next year. I sort of hope not; it would speak better of the future of longform on the Internet.

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