¶ Brevity

Clear! Concise! Cogent!

Those were the words that graced most of my research papers from a particular professor in college. Like most professors, he had a minimum page requirement for papers, but unlike most professors he also had a ceiling limit. The idea was if you couldn't make your point in that many pages, you simply couldn't make your point.

Brevity is an important lesson to learn, but is also easily forgotten when typing away in a limitless text editor. Dancing endlessly around the point of a topic has become an epidemic on the internet today. I don't know about you, but my time is valuable. I imagine yours is, as well.

I've come to appreciate writers and podcasters who work within constraints which value the time of their audience. It's about respecting your readers' attention.

Ben Brooks proposes product reviews should have a ceiling of 1500 words:

…I don’t have time to read about a new app for 30 minutes when I could try it for myself in 5 minutes. It makes no sense to read these beastly posts when I could do the work the reviewer was supposed to do — but in less time than I would spend reading the review.

I'm a huge fan of that idea.

Other things I've come to value are podcasts that I can start and finish during a short walk. Two of my favorites are Lore and Under the Radar. Lore is typically under 30 minutes and Under the Radar is always under that.

M.G. Siegler's 500ish Words hits a sweet spot for easy reading for me. Similarly, a new favorite is Matt Gemmell's new "Briefly" format. I love the direction he is taking with it:

My guidelines for Briefly pieces are that they should be 100-200 words, and should take most people less than a minute to read.


It’s my hope that the new format will allow me to write here more frequently.

I've been struggling to write. I get hung up on length versus getting to the point. I asked Matt if I could steal the Briefly idea he concisely said, "Do it."

I've already gone doubly the length of a Briefly's goals, but am firmly within 500(ish) words. Even at that, this should have taken most of you less than two minutes to read. Thanks for your moments, and I hope you enjoy reading more frequent thoughts from me.