Most people who start this article won’t make it to the end — at least not in a way that they could pass a comprehension test.
Studies have shown that the mere presence of a links in online text and the practice of jumping between digital documents impede understanding. Others have determined we read faster when we’re online and that switching between tasks — as we are likely to do while pinging, tweeting and browsing — leads us to overlook important information.
These factors make it difficult to concentrate on this 350-word article, but create a downright hostile environment for long-form content.
A two-year-old site called Longform has created an online refuge for articles longer than 2,000 words. It posts about four long articles every day and makes them easy to add to mobile reading apps such as Instapaper, Read It Later and Readability.
Now it wants to give those articles a similar refuge on the iPad with an app it launched last week.
The app populates long-form stories automatically and removes the step of bookmarking webpages with an Instapaper-like tool. When you open it, online stories fit for offline reading are already there.
In addition to content from the Longform site, readers can add publications such as the New Yorker, Fast Company and The Awl. They won’t get every article from these sites, only those that pass a certain length threshold. Longform co-founder Aaron Lammer compares the app to Flipboard, but with only long-form content.
“I think the web is great for three-minute experiences, which is what it was designed for,” Lammer says. “But if you’re sitting on the train, then you go through a lot of three-minute experiences. I think a 20-minute experience is better for the tablet.”
There are about 25 publications from which you can choose to receive content. Longform only delivers the features from each publication -- leaving out the short news stories, slideshows and videos.