Writing for interaction

Spotted a story yesterday about the rise of (and grand question about) the cupcake boutique on the New York Times site, and I had to check it out.

I’m sharing it with you not just because cupcakes generate more saliva than I have fluid in my body, but because there’s a really interesting paragraph that reads like a blog. Even though the story appears in the Small Business section (at least that’s their header):

“Cupcake stores are taking the place of ice cream stores,” said Adam Borden, whose Baltimore-based venture capital firm, Bradmer Foods, specializes in food-focused enterprises. “Cupcakes aren’t seasonal like ice cream, and they appeal to people who want the authentic experience. They have an allure based on nostalgia.”

All of which suggests a couple of questions: How many cupcakes do you have to sell to pay the rent? And are cupcakes a viable business? These are still very early days in the Great Cupcake Rush, but the answers appear to be, respectively, a lot and maybe. (What do you think? Click HERE to leave a comment.)

I like it. It recognizes that readers expect to have interactivity built into the text they read, and they are becoming more and more comfortable with writers acknowledging that interactivity, rather than what I call “playing dumb.” That’s where the story is written as if for a printed page, but oops, there’s something we could link to there. Let’s slap some HTML underneath to appease the surfers. Well you didn’t appease me. You just made me wonder, for a split second, why this word was underlined and in a different color.

Even though I’m the first generation to literally grow up with the Internet, I still trip up with that. So I don’t think it’s a generational thing; people will continue tripping up over writers’ “playing dumb.” Thus, they shouldn’t be told they have to by silly, out-of-touch editors. Nice job New York Times Small Business section.

But wait, isn’t there someone who’d been writing casually and “to” the interactivity for a while now? Yes. Political reporters Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky, at the Chicago Reader.

Joravsky’s column last week was mostly journalism, but written in a casual tone. People don’t read it for his opinion, they read it for the journalism. And for the directions on how to see where their money is going, if not what it’s being spent on.

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