The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

March 11, 2013
Rise & Opine: 1,620 words to brag about downsizing?

The most emailed story on the New York Times web site, as I write this, is Graham Hill's provocative piece about getting rid of most of his worldly possessions, which he compiled after launching an Internet start-up and then deciding to live the good life in a 420-word apartment.

My only question is: Why he couldn't detail this in a 420-word story, instead of one nearly four times that length?

Don't get me wrong: I embrace longer-form journalism, and Hill's piece, at 1,620 words, isn't really very long. But if you are arguing for economy you should embrace it in every form. Walk the walk, talk the walk, and write the write.

Hill's piece could have been much shorter to make the same points -- longer than a tweet, but shorter than 1,620 words.

Suppose it were a series of very honest tweets? Some possibilities:

OMG: Too much stuff. Need to downsize. Maybe I could do it and sell the NYT Mag on a story, recouping some costs?

Oh crap, I have to get rid of my fondue pot? I really wanted to use that thing!

No room for nephew who just popped in! Wish I had rented a bigger crib so I wouldn't have to live with this weenie.

Magazine article sold. So glad I downsized. Famous! Maybe now I can move into a mid-century modern and buy some stuff.

Next stop for Hill: Buy a mansion and write some novels.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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