People Read Beyond The First Paragraph.

My complaint about the internet is that everything is too short. My other complaint is that there are not enough footnotes. These complaints are related. I’ll explain below.

For some reason, when people write for the internet, they sacrifice detail and context. I think it has something to do with an (incorrect) impression that things disappear quickly on the internet. It might also have to do with the lack of physicality of writing here. Your words are not on parchment or carved into a tree. Maybe the human mind can’t effectively grasp that this does have a kind of permanence and someone might read what you’re writing in 100 years. Speaking of context, you might be interested to know that as I’m writing this the fog is rolling past my windows, the cat is trying to get at the keyboard, and my three year old is talking about places for her cars to sleep.

Which brings me to my second point. In my professional writing I *heart* footnotes. If you have something to say that is extraneous to your main point but might be interesting to your readers, you can put it in a footnote. I think a footnote is ultimately a polite way of saying to your audience, “if you’re interested, follow me here.” Because the internet has no effective way to footnote, (yes, I’ve heard of links, they’re not the same thing) writers have to interrupt sentences with parentheses. It’s ugly and awkward.

Length is not a problem if you’re holding the reader’s interest and it would be easier with footnotes.