In two minutes


short bursts on things I thunk.

The Attention Economy and Total Filter Failure














I’ve been poking around in new media theory again and came across a fantastic read on microstyle in The New York Times on the need for great short content.

These days if you can’t say it in 140 characters or a Facebook ad you won’t reach a large part of your audience. This much we know. (The role of long content is for another post).

What many content producers, media outlets and individuals often ignore is that we only have so much time to consume, process and act on content each day. With the rapid and wonderful democritisation of media some of us forgot to stop to ask ourselves “should we publish?”

While young people are super-consumers of content, getting through almost 11 hours in 7 hours, many people struggle simply to keep up with the headlines each day. Add email, mobile calls and texts, tablet use, social media and face-to-face conversations and it’s easy to imagine filter failure on a pretty regular basis.

The Attention Economy is a simple principle. Herbert Simon summed it up neatly:

“…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

I don’t know about you but I’m running through my daily budget of attention earlier and earlier each day.

There are ways to combat this of course: smart filtering of your information inputs and managing your ‘listening levels’ is important. But that’s really not enough.

I spoke to the rudely smart Amber Case last week about the future for content curation and she suggested we really don’t need more tools for gathering and sharing information, we need better ways for connecting different types of information.

It’s true. If I see another twitter handle sharing ‘what’s on in Melbourne’ I think my filters will explode. Maybe a service that connects free time in our friend’s Google calendars with events we have common Google+ Sparks for? That sort of thing.

So my aim in the next week or two is to look at smarter, better ways to limit the content shared and make it more useful when it is.

If you’ve seen any great examples of this, I’d love to hear about them.


Filed under: Social Media,

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