Because Long Takes Too Long

Constraints are good. For anyone who’s taken a summer vacation, you know that having more free time doesn’t necessarily make things easier. It doesn’t make things more accomplishable. It doesn’t make you more efficient.

This summer, my cohort Khoi Vinh and I, have been happy to put more constraints on our free time by adding another project to our rosters. I’m proud to announce that A Brief Message, that very project, launched earlier tonight. The premise of the new site is simple—200 words about design. In fact, 200 words or less.

And that’s the whole story; it’s less.

We considered 150 words (too short) and 250 words (too long). We decided on 200 because the Brief Messages should be “somewhere between critiques and manifestos.”

Not only that, be readers are subject to the same guidelines. We are experimenting with limiting everyone to the same 200-word constraints. So comments, posts, even the About page, are in and around 200 words.

The inaugural Brief Message by Steve Heller, illustrated by Jennifer Daniel and Erin Sparling.

As Editor-in-Chief, what’s exciting about the editorial direction is that it’s intended to be news-y, as if you were reading a newspaper only about design opinion. A selection of pieces will be evergreen, but the tone will be for today and only today. It’s as if the Op-Ed page of your local newspaper (or the one you respect the most) only published topics on design. Design opinions every day. Who wouldn’t like that?

While we’re not publishing every day, we do publish weekly, and publish with a Brief Message and a corresponding illustration. While the content drives the topic, the illustration shares priority on the page, and Khoi art directs each one.

We’re experimenting with short form online, and we’re curious to see where it will take us. Does design criticism need to be shorter? Is 200 words enough? We’re not sure. But in the meantime, we look forward to hearing what you think.