In the age of 140-character tweets and bite-sized blog posts, Mark Armstrong found it increasingly difficult to locate lengthy articles to read during extended periods of downtime. So, he created the Longreads Twitter feed
, where similarly inclined followers could submit and share meatier online pieces among themselves. Armstrong clearly wasn't the only one looking for long-form pieces, either. The Longreads account currently boasts over 7,000 followers, and savvy online media outlets have begun to mark their particularly time-intensive pieces with the '#longreads
Longreads has certainly been a hit among Twitter's literati, but Armstrong isn't stopping there. Today, he unveiled
the new Longreads site
, where users can browse through the entire Longreads archive, and find every single article that's ever been posted to the Twitter feed. Articles are also searchable by media outlet, author and topic, and are tagged according to their respective word counts. The #longreads raw feed
, meanwhile, provides users with a real-time flow of tweets tagged with the #longreads hashtag. We spent some time looking around the new Longreads site, and here are our (comparatively brief) first impressions.
The first thing that struck us about the new platform is its appropriately simple design. This is, after all, a site designed for people looking to escape the overwhelmingly staccato flow of today's online mediascape, and its spartan aesthetic certainly speaks to that. The homepage is essentially comprised of three elements: a primary search bar (where you can search for authors or topics), a drop-down menu (where you can filter results according to length), and, at the bottom, a snapshot of the latest article posted to the Longreads Twitter account. It's all very straightforward, very clean and very user friendly.
Search results on Longreads aren't so much "results" as they are directions. Each article comes with a brief summary (or byline), as well as the basic information you'd expect to find: author, source, and date of publication. Also included, however, is the article's word count, and the estimated time it'll take you to read it. (According to Armstrong
, this figure is loosely calculated on the assumption that the average reader takes one minute to read 250 words.) Results can be further sorted by most recently published or tweeted.
What makes the Longreads site so unique, however, is the fact that it doesn't really seem like a site, at all. By clearing the platform of any and all extraneous clutter, Armstrong has effectively managed to construct a massive tweet database, without sacrificing any of the streamlined brevity that makes his Twitter feed so ironically appealing. Besides, who really wants to spend a long time looking for a long read?