Well, That's Insulting: This Technology Wants You to Read Less

By Cord Jefferson on at

Time was "tl;dr" was the battle cry of lazy internet jackasses, people with no attention span who nevertheless found the energy and wherewithal to complain about the length of any digital piece of writing that dared to be longer than a few sentences. This week, at CES, tl;dr is an irritating new "innovation."

Meet TLDR, a new product from Stremor whose sole complaint is that reading long stuff takes too much time. "We're putting an end to this time-sucking injustice with our collection of TLDR stuff," reads the TLDR website. "Our magic technology evaluates written material and reduces those tediously long web pages down to concise summaries." In other words: "Waaaaaaaaaah! Reading is boring."

TLDR, which currently comes as a browser plugin to be followed by a mobile app, does exactly what it says it does: compresses longform pieces of writing, be they emails or a New York Times articles, into bite-sized chunks totally devoid of the elegance and care that make a lot of lengthier works beautiful. To illustrate TLDR's potential, its creators are handing out to CES attendees a 32-page abridged version of Mary Shelley's classic tome, Frankenstein. "Abridging fiction is much more challenging than working with non-fiction," boasts the abridged work's introduction, adding that TLDR is "very proud of the result."

You know who was probably also proud of her version of Frankenstein? Mary Shelley. And now TLDR can't even give her enough respect to spell her name right on the cover when they mutilate her book.