I would love to, but … It’s a mixture of being too lazy and also having been spoilt by writing lyrics. In songs, you can write something that’s only a page long and yet it’s the whole song. I’m reading the new Dave Eggers book [The Circle] at the moment, which is about 490 pages long. The idea of sustaining something over that length, well, I’m in awe of people who can do it. I’m more like a short-sharp-bursts kind of person.
What the findings suggest, Holton said, is that the news platforms a person is using can play a bigger role in making them feel overwhelmed than the sheer number of news sources being consumed. So even if you read The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and ESPN in a day, you may not feel as inundated with news if you read on your phone instead of on your desktop (with 40 tabs open, no doubt). The more contained, or even constrained, a platform feels, the more it can contribute to people feeling less overwhelmed, Holton said. A news app or mobile site, for instance, is an isolated experience that emphasizes reading with minimal links or other distractions. Compared with reading on the web at your computer, your options seem smaller.
“There was no connection between the number of news outlets people were using, so it made us think it was the device,” Holton told me. “You see less of a statistically significance between outlets and more between platforms.”