Fribble Friday, January 28, 2000

Fool's Digest

By James Boa (

While cruising the boards, I started wondering idly whether a new literary genre is springing up. This is the conveniently viewable message on boards such as the Fool's. It's usually a short essay or a response to a specific question. Often it contains a hyperlink. What it almost always does, is fit on a computer screen without your having to scroll through, or hit "PgDn."

You can observe this as a custom, when messages appear with "Warning -- Long Post" in the title. I personally try consciously to keep my messages shortish -- not so terse as to be unreadable by those who couldn't follow the allusions, but also not so long as to bore. Whether my messages, short or not, are found useful, is of course a completely separate matter.

What I think we're seeing is an end-of-century (it ain't over till it's over, folks), grassroots, version of Reader's Digest. You certainly wouldn't want to see Anna Karenina in this sort of format, but for its purpose, I think it works.