Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our Attention Spans...

I came across an interesting post recently on Kem Meyer's blog describing how our brains are "re-wiring" due to how we're using them. Below are some paraphrased excerpts from the post, along with some take-aways that reflect a blending of Kem's thoughts on the subject, along with mine:

+ The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds - the same as a goldfish. Our attention span is affected by the way we do things...we can get into a habit of not concentrating.
+ Twitter reduces our thoughts to just 140 characters. The average length of the 12 billion online videos consumed by U.S. users in May? 2.7 minutes.
+ The more words you add to a page the more people skim it. Our short attention spans can’t handle long articles, and we end up just skipping to the bottom line.
+ Shorter blog posts or posts with bite-sized chunks of headlines, bullet points or images get more comments than posts with lengthy blocks of text.
+ Television, the Internet and other external stimuli has rewired our brains to make it harder to absorb information that doesn't come in bite-sized chunks. Our brains are ready to jump to the next stimuli before we've fully absorbed the first information chunk.

Individual take-aways:

Is it really that crucial that we get so much information, so quickly? It's okay to give ourselves permission to not be instantly updated, contacted, posted, tweeted on a 24/7 basis.

The Internet isn't making us dumb, it's making us different. It's not as simple as just unplugging to stay smart... it's about re-thinking how we supplement our knowledge. Where we used to create space to log-on to enhance our learning and social networks, now we need to create the space to log-off to do the same. Both have value.

SoHills take-aways:

From a communication perspective, we need to acknowledge that our brains process information differently today than they did just five years ago. SoHills must constantly evaluate its delivery methods to determine if we're presenting too much information to be absorbed.

Bloated content doesn't make a powerful impact. Again... this is a reality not because people are dumb, it's because we're bombarded with too much information.