Is “Long form” dead?

A number of recent events have had this question swirling around in my head.

First and foremost, the recent ELT Blog Carnival I hosted and promoted. Not too many entries and not a lot of interest from those I emailed about it. “Too busy” everyone politely replied (and then they were off to check their social media feeds). Secondly, been noticing how few people have continued to blog in ELT. There have been a few new bloggers but the old hands are posting less and less and I notice that even new bloggers post a flurry and then they too just don’t keep at it. I’m wondering what’s up?

I know ever few years this topic rears its head. However, this year, it seems more real and may I say, lethal. Not many taking the time to read at length – I’ve noticed on this blog, a much shorter time spent on any page. Has social media killed long form? If so, is that good or bad?

I grew up what one must consider a bibliophile. I treasure my books and library like they are my children. But even myself, I find I don’t sit and read “whole” heartily like I used to. I’ll sit and read my NY Times Review of Books first page to last but that’s it. I’m busy with this task or that. Checking this feed or browsing the latest links. Keeping abreast. But I do think I’m not going anywhere and just treading water – the rat-ta-tat-tat of social media seems to keep one spinning and in one place. Every day, groundhog day. Posts, titillation, quips, funny images, cat videos, look at me I’m flying to “X” messages, eating pizza in “Y” notifications — so much self absorption and not enough absorption in the word, the mind, the thought. However, this blog remains one place, one island where I may loaf and lolligag and let my mind wander and fingers tap treasured words and ideas.

I digress but let me digress again (it is my blog!). This weekend on a long drive and well out of cell phone range, I listened to the only distraction available, the radio. Pundits were discussing Yahoo’s 30 million dollar acquisition of an app that parses articles into 400 word “Coles notes” (remember them?). David Pogue, NYT’s columnist and media panelist on CBC’s Q stated like I would, “When I’m typing, every word is a shiny diamond, every word a perfectly considered sound” and bemoaned the fact that such apps would ever be considered, saying, “This guy made money by taking what we do and turning it into red mist ….” The host asked, “Do you think it is another nail in the coffin of long form writing?” and Pogue finished brilliantly – “I’ve been watching those nails go in forever …. we just will not die. I’m the walking dead, these zombies will continue to roam among us.”

So to say it loud and clear, there may be much fewer of us left but us zombies, us bloggers and blusterers will continue to belch and bellow through blogs. We are zombies and walking dead does not equal “dead”. I’ll return and keep returning to my favorite long term bloggers that have survived, endured, triumphed through the years. Ill keep posting here and taking the hour, two, three or four that it takes to make a thoughtful blog post. My blog is my PhD, as David Truss used to say (another long form, long term zombie).



Want to read “long form” online? Try one of my fav. bloggers Ira Socol SpeED. He makes each thought and post shine. Eschew such pretenders like Seth Godin, who write a few words and dress words up as “smart” instead of at their core being smart.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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11 Responses

  1. Rinaldo says:

    Amazing food for thought and **** I’m a walking dead then! lol!

  2. ellen says:

    I’m hooked on long, online conversations…. I think that makes me a dinosaur!

    I want intense, ‘real’ personal connections in exchange for the time I spend online… That’s how the social media side of the internet started, I remember, I was there! It was great- no pics, no striving to get thousands of hits, because it just wasn’t possible yet, just people and written words.

    Oh well : )

  3. ddeubel says:

    Ellen, Dinosaurs are dead, come join us zombies! I know you are a night owl …..

    I hear you about longer conversations without ulterior reasons other than just making thought visible. You can still find these happening but the wasteland is getting larger and larger and you have to fight your way through a lot of road warriors and Mad Max types.

    I’m thinking of doing one of those novel writing competitions – you have to write it over one long weekend. I know I’d clean up and then continue by re Joycing…. I’m a long form zombie.

  4. ellen says:

    Write it about pok*r!!! I am jonesing for a good pok*r story.

    I really enjoyed Socol’s blog, and totally see what you mean about Godin!

    I did get to click on Godin’s head- that was fun- but boy, was it empty in there!

    I wish the Godin’s of the educational world didn’t make all the money… I think that’s what bugs me most!

    I’ll keep reading Socol’s blog- I really liked it. So comforting to read someone who really thinks and feels about these things, and takes the time and energy to express himself.

    OMG- edublogs rejected my comment because I used the word pok-er! I’m guessing I shouldn’t even try the s*x talk.

  5. Marisa Constantinides says:

    No, it isn’t dead, dear David but I do feel like you sometimes, swamped by it all.

    I hope good writing isn’t going though posts do get thinner and thinner every time I look!

    Keep writing please – we need voices like yours.


  6. ddeubel says:


    Your words are encouraging and will keep me “walking dead”. Same back to you about “voices”. I know at times it seems a lonely universe amid all the mirrors and brow beatings…. lets’ keep other honest and like Cavalry’s immortal poem “I went” (don’t know the Greek but have his words on my own heart like an anvil)…. “I did not stop myself, I fully surrendered and went …”

    Let’s do everything with a clear conscience and not for piecemeal or for any other reason that he feels right.


  7. ddeubel says:


    Glad someone else feels similar about Seth. Not that he doesn’t have wisdom, it is just that you can’t suck on it – it is something you choke on and can never make your own or digest into thy self. Glad to point you to Ira’s blog. He’s the Hemingway of education. No sophistication, just what counts goes on the page and to the dregs, honest about what we live as educators.

  8. ellen says:

    amen : ) I am trying to do that with my life.

    I’m not teaching little ones now, David. I really am not : ) I just ‘am’ with kids at the moment, which has been really nice when a kid pops up 😀

    I’m not teaching grown ups, either. Teaching works best in a school, I mean non-familial teaching. I set out to see if that could be done online, and it can. A real classroom can develop. But it’s rare. A school is where there is more than one teacher, and I think it is really, really good to have more than one teacher around. Much safer, and smarter too- you only need one other teacher to make a school with, though : )

    Ok I’ll stop!! 😀

    (It doesn’t hurt to try and figure out what a school actually is- what makes a school?

    THAT’s a hippie question! Ahem, an early 1970’s question, for 12 yr old : )

  9. ellen says:

    Oh, but what I meant to say is, I don’t live with an educator’s problems anymore, so I can’t claim it in the same way : ) I am not suffering like a teacher right now. I don’t have to try *so hard* to be good. It’s much easier not being a teacher.

    But I think I’ll do it again, because it is so much fun to teach… Vincent was like that too- he loved to teach! Because it was fun!

  10. ellen says:

    I meant amen to,

    Let’s do everything with a clear conscience and not for piecemeal or for any other reason that he feels right.

    I am really out of practice with the computer!

  11. Teresa Bestwick says:

    I’d agree that people are blogging less (myself included) and I often find that when I open up my google reader I have fewer posts to read than in previous years. There are still posts from those who blog as part of their routine, like Scott Thornbury who provides excellent Sunday breakfast reading material. I imagine it’s the same as most new trends (Twitter included) – some people stick with it and others don’t.

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