The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything

A stack of books in a grassy field.

Excerpt from this article:

The vast majority of the world’s books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It’s just numbers.

You used to have a limited number of reasonably practical choices presented to you, based on what bookstores carried, what your local newspaper reviewed, or what you heard on the radio, or what was taught in college by a particular English department. There was a huge amount of selection that took place above the consumer level. (And here, I don’t mean “consumer” in the crass sense of consumerism, but in the sense of one who devours, as you do a book or a film you love.)

Now, everything gets dropped into our laps, and there are really only two responses if you want to feel like you’re well-read, or well-versed in music, or whatever the case may be: culling and surrender.

If “well-read” means “not missing anything,” then nobody has a chance. If “well-read” means “making a genuine effort to explore thoughtfully,” then yes, we can all be well-read. But what we’ve seen is always going to be a very small cup dipped out of a very big ocean, and turning your back on the ocean to stare into the cup can’t change that.

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Twitter Sundays, Facebook Wednesdays, and Reddit Fridays: When People Read on the Internet

Excerpt from this article:

Together, the referrers suggest how people tend to shift from site to site throughout the week. While it still doesn’t matter when you publish, you might share your posts at different times and places depending on your audience. Twitter is more popular earlier in the week, while Facebook is more popular mid-week. LinkedIn and Gmail rise in the early mornings and after-lunch hours, whereas Reddit and Hacker News peak after dinner. Google search and content aggregators are more consistent throughout the week. And on the weekend, we’ve got you covered on the Medium app.

You Won’t Finish This Article

A person browses through media websites on a computer on May 30, 2013.

Excerpt from this article:

I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all.

So here’s the story: Only a small number of you are reading all the way through articles on the Web. I’ve long suspected this, because so many smart-alecks jump in to the comments to make points that get mentioned later in the piece. But now I’ve got proof… Schwartz’s data shows that readers can’t stay focused. The more I type, the more of you tune out. And it’s not just me. It’s not just Slate. It’s everywhere online. When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people don’t even make it halfway. Even more dispiriting is the relationship between scrolling and sharing. Schwartz’s data suggest that lots of people are tweeting out links to articles they haven’t fully read. If you see someone recommending a story online, you shouldn’t assume that he has read the thing he’s sharing.

 

 

Why I Unfollowed You on Instagram

Excerpt from this article on Medium, where the writer theorizes that “The Social Network is Yesterday, The Interest Feed is Tomorrow“, and which I found after someone tweeted that following this advice was the best thing they could have ever done to make their social media experience better:

I’m looking for an intelligent feed of my interests. A feed of stuff I’m going to like, drawn from a white-list of trusted curators but personalized for me. Not specific to one vertical (News, Music, Stuff to Buy, etc) or one content type (movies, photos, text, links). Ordered by the most relevant, the stuff I need to see RIGHT NOW.

I’ve found hiring these tools for the specific tasks they’re best at has extended their relevance to me by amplifying their value. All this to say — this is why I unfollowed you on Instagram, just like I did on Twitter a few years ago.

I use Facebook to keep a network of people I actually know IRL. There’s real utility to this network and the smaller it is the more useful it can be. This is where I post things that are personal and things that people who know me would appreciate but are not meant for “public”.

On Facebook it’s possible to “Like” bands, companies, brands, etc but I am un-Like-ing those instead. I want Facebook to do this one thing well — give me access to and filter the internet via a network of people I know IRL. Facebook will not be The Interest Graph. We’ve already watched AOL try to be Yahoo!, Yahoo! try to be Google, and Google try to be Facebook. No dominant player from the previous era will ever own the next era, too. This will be a new, purpose-built tool.

I use Twitter as a feed of news and humor. Once I stopped following people I know or celebrities I like and managed my list of Twitter followers as the list of bylines I’d like to see in my dream publication, my feed got interesting again. That said, I don’t consume it very often anymore for the reasons mentioned above.

I use LinkedIn to keep a network of people I’ve worked with and remember well enough to offer a recommendation about (positive or negative). If I don’t know you, I don’t accept your request. However, while I intellectualize this theoretical value, I never open the LinkedIn app unless I’m hiring. I do read the LinkedIn emails of news and updates on people in my network, though, so I find culling this list valuable.

Snapchat I use to communicate with a select few people and watch vertical video when I’m bored. The channel offering is limited and Snapchat has neither encouraged me to follow too many people nor put the most interesting stuff at the top for me yet.

Instagram, on the other hand, is special in that it is a medium for creativity, not information. “Creativity loves constraints”, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and the (initially) square box of Instagram allowed all of us to communicate a moment as artistically as we were capable. Popular artists of the medium were born. Artists embraced the medium. I love Instagram in an emotional way I don’t love any of these other services.

So Here’s a Study About Internet Cats

"The Grumpy Guide To Life: Observations By Grumpy Cat" Book Launch Party

Excerpt from this article that looks at that eternal question, why do people love internet cats?

People are more than twice as likely to post a picture or video of cats than they are to post a selfie.

…According to a personality test, people who reported watching the most cat videos tended to be more agreeable — cooperative, friendly, trusting — than people who watched fewer of the videos.

…Frequent cat-video-watchers also tended to score high on a scale measuring shyness; they were more likely to agree with statements like, “I feel tense when I’m with people I don’t know well.”

…They also reported feeling less anxiety, sadness, and annoyance after watching cat videos. Who could stay upset when watching cats play patty cake, or stalk their owners, or pretend to be a tiny, furry wrecking ball?

The Rise Of The Screenshort

View image on Twitter

Excerpt from this article:

What’s a Screenshort? Essentially, it’s a chunk of text, screen-shotted, and embedded in a tweet. It’s become an extremely popular way to share a passage from a story. You could call it a Tweetcap, maybe. But I’m going with Screenshort.

Embedding a text block means that people will read the thing you want them to read without having to follow a link. It, genuinely, saves a click (without being condescending!).

It’s also an effective way to highlight a passage. There have been all kinds of attempts by different websites to make individual passages and paragraphs linkable, but nothing has caught on. A Screenshort goes right where you want it to.

My Dear, Dear, Dear Watson

Excerpt from this article:

Part of the Internet’s beauty is the space it affords people to take an idea and run with it . . . and run with it and run with it, until they end up miles away from where they started. Among a subset of online superfans of the BBC show “Sherlock,” solving mysteries is mere window dressing for the real story: one about unrequited love between Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman).

This sort of wholesale invention, by viewers, of a romance between fictional characters who are not romantically linked on-screen is a form of something known as “shipping” (short for “relationship-ing,” the term can also refer to rooting for actual fictional couples).

It is by no means limited to “Sherlock” — any form of pop culture, from “Scandal” to One Direction, is fair game — but that show has inspired vast and vivid fictional worlds, completely imagined by shippers who share screenshots, drawings and even entire books…