Friday, 29 November 2013

The Slow Web Concept

When it comes to media and the news, everything is fast these days. Last weekend I went to an event called The Sunday Papers Live and one of the speakers was Jon Snow from C4 news. One of the most fascinating aspects of his (informal) lecture was his telling of how they used to get world news back to the UK. By the time it reached Heathrow, the news he had reported on was generally two or three days out of date.

Oh, how things have changed. Now there are stories that can be published on the web and 10, 30, 40 minutes later it might be out of date. The beauty I suppose is that it can be easily amended without the print costs, but is fast news/comment/reports/features always a good thing?

This morning, before settling down to my day of work, I read a feature about a freelancer that had set up his own quarterly, online magazine. Adam Westbrook, the author of the feature, calls it 'micropublishing'. He was working solo and funded it himself. For many writers, I'm sure this would be the dream, but what I really liked about his project was the idea of the 'slow web' which beautifully contradicts how we usually consume internet based information. Adam Westbrook wrote:

'In a world where blog posts are scribbled off in 20 minutes and skimmed over by readers in 20 seconds, I wanted to write something that stuck.

I wanted to spend weeks researching essays, designing bespoke illustrations and scouring lost books. The result, I think, is a magazine made with love that demands your attention. I begin each issue suggesting the reader clears an hour from their schedule, switches off their 3G and pours a coffee.'

I love this. One of my favourite things to do at the weekend currently is to buy the papers and pour over them for hours, reading each section and the magazines/supplements. My chap asked me the other day, "why bother?" Obviously he was implying that it's easier and quicker to get it off social media, or the paper's website, but it all feels so frantic. It still feels like you're only getting snippets, or you have to read it quicker because it's on the web and comments are being constantly added, or the article might be modified by the editors at the touch of a button, so then what you're reading might change completely. At least with the papers it remains static. There's more of a chance to take it all in.

For me, print journalism still has a greater air of authority. Maybe because amid a huge amount of free media, you still have to pay for your print. Anything committed to this format feels more final. Know what I mean? I like the idea though of an alternative 'slow web', where there's a reminder that not all writing has to be hashed out in an hour or less.

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Cheers, RoseC