We live in the age of "too long; didn't read," tl;dr for short. Attention is limited in scope, but demands for attention increase year after year. The flow of information of potential interest to any one individual has grown to a torrent, a flood, and continues to multiply. Many people respond to this by rejecting all but summaries. No summary? Then begone! Time is too short! I have a thousand more emails, posts, and articles to skim this week! This is a choice of course. One could go the other way and avoid the flow entirely, choosing only to search out dense blocks of information at leisure, accepting the fact that we can never know everything.
I have in the past discussed simplifying Fight Aging! as a part of attempting to broaden the audience, reach more people who might become supporters of longevity-enhancing scientific research. Fight Aging! has always been a wall of text, though I'm sure those of you who have been around for a while recall that it used to be less accessible than it is at present. The layout is an improvement these days, and I try to make more of an effort to provide context to scientific papers that I find interesting. Nonetheless, the topic is science and science is information-dense. You can lead in with bullet-points but trying to summarize study results in a few lines is very likely to miss most of the interesting points for those who are following a particular line of research. All of this is one of the many reasons why science sites tend to have smaller audiences than, say, sports sites.
The following email turned up in my in-box recently, I'm guessing from someone for whom English is a second language:
Your website is an excellent source for reverse-aging news, but it is kinda wordy. When I read your website, I feel that I was reading some very lengthy and boring research papers with a lot of technical terms that I don't understand. I am not sure how many people is like me, but I find it easier to read from online newspapers than from your website, so I usually only google those news and read.
If you can summarize your articles into short sentences and highlight significant breakthrough and if possible add some images too, then it will be a lot better, at least for people like me.
If you are keeping up with the attention stream in a language other than your own, the demands only become greater - which is not even to consider that science is involved, which is a language all to itself, making everything harder to translate.
So I put this out there again for the purposes of discussion: how much value is there is adding a layer of bullet-point tl;dr summarization to this wall of text on science? On the one hand it seems to me that the tl;dr-ing of everything, everywhere is already happening without the need for much intervention on the part of content creators, and I'm old enough to feel less than enthusiastic about this unfolding digestion of nuanced long-form to skimmed short-form. On the other hand, I'm already pretty far down that road if you stop to look back at the pace and prose of yesteryear. Fight Aging! is very deliberately a stream, a continuous signal of some sort to indicate that things are going on and human rejuvenation is a topic open to participation. Posts occasionally have summaries and sometimes even conclusions. Where does it all end?
People without the necessary time to understand and follow longevity science nonetheless want to be able to understand and follow longevity science. Is it possible to provide a useful summary in the sort of 15-second attention chunks desired, or can you only provide the illusion of a useful summary? There is so much misrepresentation taking place in the industries associated with aging that I think one has to be wary of contributing more of the same, even with the best of intentions. We might have to accept that some things cannot or should not be digested to two lines of text if you are doing something more than just counting page views and cents from advertisers.
I would of course be interested to see someone take the Creative Commons licensed content here and try their own tl;dr experiment, see how it goes. The same goes for translations. The more people out there experimenting with delivery and messaging, the more likely it is that new people find the longevity science community. Lack of attention at first doesn't necessarily mean lack of attention forever.