A Short Story About Long Reads

I'm the first person to admit that my PhD thesis was way too long. I've not met one single person who has read it in total (including the evaluation committee and my supervisor) with the possible exception of my very thorough opponent Professor Mike Spector.

Already robots are creating short pieces for newspapers. An article from The Guardian in 2014 lists quite a number of various softwares providing this kind of service such as Quill, WordsmithYseop and Labsense. With journalists being laid off (as a result of the difficulty of finding good business models handling free journals and the online generation) it's no wonder the future for in-depth material looks glum.
From StrÄvalla 2015
However, it seems to me that the material the robots provide is focusing on well-structured settings such as reporting on sports, ratings, finance and so on. It would be rather fun to create software that takes annual reports from companies and cut through the corporate bullshit and presents the material in a way that makes sense and really spells out what's going on. Another application would be software that checks what politicians say and compares it to what they claimed some years ago, especially the difference between pre and post election statements. Perhaps another area would be gossip reporting from events such the Academy Awards (congratulations Alicia Vikander!). I shouldn't have given up my career in computational linguistics...

As an antidote it good to see that websites focusing on collecting and distributing in-depth material is on the rise. One of them is Longreads and another one is Longform. Here you can find new material such as "Life and Death in the App Store", but also old classics like Harper Lee's first article "Love - In Other Words" from 1961. However, wouldn't it be just cynical if the compilation of the long reads was made by a robot!?! Of course, you could argue that editing is a dirty, dull and dangerous job.

However, in our stressed-out world with activity-based offices and time to read only on the bus and using your smartphone, how can we submerge ourselves in a long read? Maybe this new kind of café is the answer, where you are not allowed to speak. I wonder if we'll get something like that at Chalmers, now that our new President has declared that all new offices will have an activity-based design.
From Copenhagen 2015

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