Gaurav Gupta

@gagu

tl;dr as a business model

Wikipedia defines tl;dr as “Too long; didn’t read (abbreviated tl;dr and tldr;) is a shorthand notation added by an editor indicating a passage appeared to be too long to invest the time to digest.” tl;dr was first recorded in the urban dictionary in 2003 and for a very long time, stood for a point of view-almost to the point of being rude. Of late, a new, and more acceptable, usage of tl;dr has emerged- tl;dr is becoming the internet’s way of saying here’s an executive summary of the write-up you are about to read.

So how long is too long to stop reading? Is tl;dr about the (l) (adjective) or about the ‘(dr) (verb). As per a recent report, the average attention span for humans seems to have dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000, to 8 seconds in 2016. At 8 seconds, our attention span is less than that of a goldfish. In simple words, we cannot focus on a task beyond 8 seconds without getting distracted. And this drop in attention span was across all age groups and gender. The number one reason attributed to this societal trend is penetration of multiple devices-smartphones,laptops,tabs.smart watches and the endless list.

Leveraging this societal trend are apps (and therefore business models) that ride on the universal tension between two human truths- “Fear of missing out (the need to know more)” and “I do not have the time to know more”. Heard of summly and inshorts? They leverage this human insight, expressed in the youthfully arrogant acronym of tl;dr,and compress news in 140 characters (at least inshorts does so).

bookbhook aims to be the Indian tl;dr solution for the world of non-fiction books. A typical non-fiction book contains about 65,000 words which bookbhook handcrafted summaries compress to 3000–3500 words. 3–8 hours of reading time compressed to 10 minutes or so. But why would someone want to read a book summary? For the same reason that people are loading inshorts app on their phones- the need to know more without reading more. Sampling content is increasingly becoming a key gateway to consuming content, especially for printed words.

tl;dr is today a societal trend AND a business model. Business models get built on human insights,that emerge from trends. Who knows how close are we to the world where tl;dw (too long;didn’t watch) will lead to new business models? Oh wait, that’s snapchat, right?

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