November 1, 2006
One of the great, definitive abbreviations for the social web is TL;DR. It stands for too long; didn't read, and epitomizes the short-attention-span crowd, the willfully idiotic segment of the online population that 1. we all sometimes belong to and that 2. makes for the shittiest experiences on the web.
The TL;DR impulse is both the engine behind and the scourge of the web communities. I'm reminded of this fact because a conversation with an acquaintance referenced Jay Rosen's Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over, in the context of my own The Blog Cycle. Jay Rosen, of course, is one of the smartest and most far-seeing experts on the intersection of blogs and journalism. He's also the definitive creator of TL;DR content: It's so smart, so dense, and so lengthy that I wonder if even he has ever read to the end of one of his own blog posts.
There are a million manifestations of this delightful demon; It popped up for me when I realized that a recent New York Times story had some fairly significant revelations about a company in the tech industry. The news wasn't anything revelatory, but I had assumed the information would spark a number of startled blog posts on highly trafficked sites. The next day, though, silence! Why had everybody ignored the big story? The answer was obvious: The key quotes were tucked away towards the end of a 1,000 word article. If you ever want to hide some information from prying eyes, I'd suggest offering it to the New York Times.
The final beauty of TL;DR is of course the fact that it's an abbreviation at all. Spelling out the concept would of course take too long to read.
(Thanks to Bryan Partington for the CC-licensed image.)