Recently I read The Rebellion Within by Lawrence Wright, a long, erudite, immensely informative New Yorker piece about the internal dynamics of Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad: Who are these people, anyhow, where did they come from, and where are they going? I entirely recommend it. There’s a problem, though: I read it on-line.
A high proportion of my reading time these days, both business and pleasure, is spent reading the Internet. But we still subscribe to The Economist and, whenever I’m about to get on a plane, I try to pick up a copy of the New Yorker; its articles are mostly very good, and usually there are one or two which are long and meaty; just the thing for an airplane ride.
The problem was, on a recent trip, that I glanced at the cover of the latest, bought it there at the airport, and discovered only after I was airborne that the big meaty piece was that radical-Islamist story.
Lacking alternatives, I read most of it again anyhow once my laptop battery was juiced out. The experience, on paper, was immensely better. This is not to diss the New Yorker’s online presentation, as good as any there is; the column width is about perfect, and the cartoons are inlined artfully in a way that doesn’t impede the flow of reading.
But for now, paper’s just way better for this sort of long-form piece. Maybe that’ll change. I’m not sure what I’m actually going to do about this; I’ll hardly pass up a juicy link that I have time to follow just because it’s also on sale in print.
It’s just that there’s part of me that wishes that the online and print worlds were perhaps a bit more cleanly separated.