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Slow Content

An aspiration and a set of values. An Utterly Content talk with ambitions. An embryonic movement for a better web.

why we're here

The web is a wonderful thing, brimming with possibilities for inspiration, cooperation and creative thoughtfulness.

The web can make the world a better place. But its potential to thrive is under threat from technocracy and the algorithm, from myopic corporate and municipal worldviews, from the idea that it’s only there to allow people to complete tasks, from the attention economy and the misapprehension that anything with value is ultimately a transaction of one sort or another.

Slow Content is an embryonic movement for a better web. It's an idea in love with words and pictures, taking inspiration from Robert Macfarlane, from Jeffrey Zeldman, and from the Slow Food movement.

In the world of books, the 10 pillars of slow content would mostly seem like accepted wisdom. In the world of online content they need some brave tortoises to stand up for them.

A tortoise
pillar one

Quality over quantity

More is not better. Something is not always preferable to nothing. Websites everywhere are drowning in a sea of disposable content that does nobody any favours. Elegant, sustainable quality is a wonderful thing.

pillar two

Depth over breadth

Despite the possibilities of longform, online content is too often a race to the soundbite and the quick sell. Slow content rewards deep dives as well as shallow paddles.

pillar three

Creativity over fashion

The long tail of the web ought to be a playground for invention and new perspectives. Too often a lowest-price, me-too, fast-fashion culture swamps creativity. Slow content is carefully crafted.

Pillar four

The right word over the simplest word

Slow content decries obfuscation and officialese. It admires the ability to explain complexity without resorting to verbosity. But it also loves the richness of language and takes a stand against the impoverishment that over-simplification can bring. Slow content values nuance, precision and poetry.

Pillar five

Enrichment over transactions

In some people's minds, all online content is instructional, transactional or promotional. Slow content shows that the web is also a natural home for art and literature, for the beautiful and the surprising, for content that can make you laugh and cry.

Pillar six

Purpose over profit

Slow content changes people's minds and their habits in vital ways that fast content cannot. The planet and the people who live on it need purpose-driven organisations producing purposeful content.

Pillar seven

Concise over short

Nothing should be longer than it needs to be, but that doesn't mean that everything needs to be short. The myths that nobody reads online and that nobody has an attention span of longer than 30 seconds are pernicious. Slow content takes as long as it needs to take.

Pillar eight

The citizen over the consumer

Fast content is well suited to a world of consumption: of stuff and of information. Slow content respects people as citizens rather than as subjects or consumers. Slow content enables and it empowers, building long-term alliances rather than short-term sales. It values connections over transactions.

Pillar nine

Contemplation over acceleration

There is a place for speed. There's also a place for slowing down and soaking up. Slow content appreciates thoughtfulness over click-through. Slow content rewards absorption.

Pillar ten

Tradition over convention

The web has much to learn from centuries of traditions, and from the wisdom of authors and artists, publishers and printers. This respect for the past doesn't mean being constrained by it. Slow content is inventive and innovative, taking the best from the world of print and transforming it with the exciting potential of digital.

Language actually does create things, and it creates momentum and pressure. That’s why we’re focused on it.

Tristan Harris, 

Center for Humane Technology

If we're concerned about ideas, we have to slow things down.

Jeffrey Zeldman, 

A List Apart

I agree. What can I do?

Make the case for slowing down, in at least some of your content. Join the movement and share ideas, inspiration and pleas for help.

Look for good examples of slow content, and share them on social media using the hashtag #SlowContent. Copy in @contentiousltd and we'll help spread good ideas.

Wear the t-shirt; drink tea from the mug.*

*These don't actually exist yet. They may do, one day.