How can a writer cater to an audience with diverse preferences and needs (particularly, how much detail they want and how much time they have)? One way is to use telescopic or responsive text.
Telescopic text is a method of iteratively displaying more and more textual detail on request (I suppose the reader becomes the user). Joe Davis’ brilliant example of telescopic text starts with the phrase “I made tea” before progressing to a 198-word short story through 45-or-so iterations. Wonderful.
Responsive text is similar in some regards and vastly different in others. Like a responsive design, responsive text ‘scales’ in response to the user’s screen size in order to display an appropriate amount of textual detail. If viewed on a larger screen, Frankie Roberto’s responsive text example points out:
It’s a bit of an experiment, and I’m not really sure how useful it really is, but I think it’s an interesting idea.
It could also perhaps be combined with some form of a user interface that allows you to control how much text you want to read. This might be really useful for news articles, for instance – you could decide whether to read full quotes and a detailed backstory, or just the gist.
I think making this behaviour user-controllable is key and an interface variable/bookmarklet is an interesting concept to follow. One issue I envisage is that adoption of this will come from authors and making this easy-to-implement on the producer-side will take some skill.