Advertising campaigns for everything from wi-fi to retail have all led us to believe one thing: fast is good. And it’s hard to argue with that logic. ‘Fast’ means convenience, after all. In the world of marketing, ‘fast’ means engaging with customers in real time, fostering better relationships and positioning your brand as one that cares.
This focus on ‘fast’ can be attributed largely to the advent of social media, which has been accompanied by (and has to an extent contributed to) a significant drop in attention span. People want images, video and text that can be digested in a couple of seconds, and the short form content of networks like Tumblr, Vine and Twitter has thrived in this climate of rapid, real time consumption.
But not everybody thinks that quicker is always better. One start-up in particular is bucking the trend of “fast food” content and striking back with a new platform dedicated to long form journalism. Founded by Wired Contributing Editor Joshua Davis and Joshuah Bearman (the writer behind ‘Argo’), Epic is an online magazine whose mission statement is showcasing high quality writing and extraordinary non-fiction, in a format that doesn’t support being skim-read on a coffee break, but rather, benefits from the full and undivided attention of the reader.
According to The New York Times, “they are trying to build a model for long form journalism where the revenue is generated over the entire life of a story, including magazine fees, sales on Audible.com and Amazon Kindle Singles, [and] ancillary film and television rights.” Davis and Bearman themselves state on the Epic website that “stories will debut on Medium, a new venture by Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Medium is a platform built for ideas that should last. And that’s what Epic aims for: stories worth remembering.”
Epic certainly harks back to a time when there were less digital distractions, and provides a counterpoint to the entertaining but transient GIF-heavy posts churned out by popular blogs like BuzzFeed, a model that is becoming increasingly saturated. Because let’s face it, it takes less time and effort to memify a clip from the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race than it does to write a couple of thousand words.
Of course, this isn’t an “either/or” situation. The internet is big enough to accommodate fast-moving news and entertainment blogs which cover events as they occur, and longer, potentially more engaging stories with less of an expiry date. Comparing one to the other would be as pointless as trying to choose the instant gratification of a Big Mac and the satisfaction you get from the prolonged experience of a three course meal. There is a time and a place for both.