Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Social" Media and Short Attention Spans

Awhile back on Google Plus I remember someone was lamenting the fact that people these days seem to be just hit and run posters and commenters. In other words, he would take part in a conversation about a post that he or someone else had made and the comments were just starting to develope into a stimulating conversation then those who had posted stopped posting and moved on to the next big thing. I noticed that I myself pretty much had adopted that mode. It seems to be the nature of the social media sites. Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus all three have a scrolling update of statuses by whoever you are following so you are constantly being served with fresh new content to respond to. This is good in some ways but in others I can see where it leads to what this other guy was complaining about. The social media sites seem to be great tools for networking and building a breadth of social contacts but they aren't much good for depth. You can have hundreds or even thousands of "friends" but outside the ones you know in real life how well do you really get to "know" any of them.

You get to know someone over time by having conversations with them. Learning their likes, dislikes, views on particular topics, how they came to see the world in the way they did etc. Oh sure, you can go check out someone's Profile page and get an overview of things like this but that only goes so far. I think, what the guy was looking for was the long, engaging conversations that generally take place on the various Web Forums or back in the old days used to be carried out on UseNet. There, you can go back and see where a particular conversation started, sometimes even years ago, and developed to the point where it is today. You can see what has already been said and then, after catching up, you can jump in with your two cents and ad something relevant to the conversation. The comments, following a post on the social media sites can sometimes stretch into a pretty decent conversation but after awhile they become unwieldy and that particular post scrolls farther and farther down your feed so it gets to be too much hassle to go dig it back up and continue the discussion. I think, to some extent Facebook is trying to address this with their new Timeline view but I'm not really liking the looks of it. The idea behind it is that you can scroll back and see all the posts someone has made from their profile though and that reminded me of something.....something I started a long time ago....around 2004 I think. Yeah, I started one, did some stuff with it for awhile, got bored, moved on to other things, used it for a dumping ground to save news articles, jokes, quotes and things I liked for awhile. Then somebody on a podcast inspired me to start doing it again.... Oh yeah! My Blog! That's what the Timeline concept reminds me of. :)

If you jog in a jogging suit, lounge in lounging pajamas, and smoke in a smoking jacket, WHY would anyone want to wear a windbreaker??


  1. Thank you to my friend Violet H. for this comment via Facebook:

    Interesting. Recent testing done with very bright children gave a result that was measurable. After playing a video game,or other such media , the attention span and I.Q. was short and low. It tested higher and sustained a longer time span when the children read. It was adjustable, the attention span and I.Q. recovered once the child was allowed to read for a longer stretch. Something to consider.

  2. This is a great observation. I think google has nailed the conversation and discussion piece but not in the G+ feed. Where they got it right was on the images. I have observed that discussions around images seem to last longer that posts. Perhaps if google gave posts an individual treatment like they do for images it would foster better conversation.

    On the flip side the G+ devs try to keep people engaged in the comment threads in several ways. The notifications, the email notifications of notifications, when you comment on a post it gets moved to the top of your feed and so on.


  3. That's a good point cchehn! I do like the way conversations around images on G+ seem to develop and that might be an area the developers would want to study for cues to improve post interactions.