Why Arts & Letters is the highbrow hit of the internet

Mark Lasswell explains why the intellectually curious can't resist the teasers on the Arts & Letters Daily.

Denis Dutton's online celebrity is based not on, say, a selection of his upskirt photos of Hollywood actresses, or a video diary of the growth of his toenails, or a showcase of his dog's ability to bark to the entire Abba oeuvre. No, he is loved by a worldwide audience of a very particular sort, because he has the ability to write the sort of pithy, intriguing summary of a newspaper or magazine article found above (only better) - and because he brings an inspired eclecticism to culling those articles for inclusion on his aggregator website Arts & Letters Daily (www.aldaily.com).

Founded in 1998, Arts & Letters Daily now claims nearly three million monthly page views from more than 333,000 unique viewers. Those visitors constitute a healthy portion of the smartypants elite - 45% of the audience holds a master's or doctoral degree. They are academics, journalists, think-tank denizens and those who are just plain intellectually curious. They have come to rely on the site as a tireless magpie of ideas, one that does the sort of brainy legwork that the visitors would do (or imagine they would do) if only they had the time. The A&LD motto, 'Veritas odit moras', taken from Seneca, translates as 'Truth hates delay'.

Part of the site's appeal is its simplicity. It is divided into three columns, under the headings 'Articles of Note', 'New Books' and 'Essays and Opinion'. In each column, updated with new links six days a week, are dozens of three- and four-line descriptions of the articles lurking behind that enticing more>>.

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