Monday, 31 March 2014

Write Bites

It's well known that preschoolers can have a short attention span, so most kinds of explanations that take more than a few words are likely to go over their heads. This is why the producers of shows like Sesame Street created so many memorable sketches: they needed to convey an idea in a short time.

Unfortunately that short attention span seems to be increasingly normal for young adults today, and the media has contributed to it. Services like Twitter only allow up to 140 characters. Phone text messaging has a similar limitation. The average YouTube video lasts four minutes. Even written blogs are slowly being replaced by "bloglets" or "micro-blogs" of 400 words or less. We are being reduced to gleaning information through sound bites or as I shall call it, "write bites".

Another blog site that I write on has rules that include: each post must be over 400 characters long, and a single user may post up to ten items each day. Because it's a money-per-view site, many users take full advantage of it by writing multiple short posts of fluff in order to cash in. I've seen posts about mundane subjects garnering hundreds of "likes".

I recently wrote an article wondering why my posts weren't getting very much traffic. The response was that because I tend to write longer posts about intelligent subjects (the actual words were "too cerebral") most readers will only look at the first few lines and then move on. They won't stick around for the whole post, meaning they won't "like" the post or comment on it.

This is a travesty. If people won't take the time to appreciate someone else's ideas, how will they learn? You can't learn any subject by just looking at the introduction to the book.

As for me, I have seriously considered switching blog sites again. In general I don't write fluffy stuff, and if that's what it would take to get noticed, I would prefer to stick to what I like to write about in relative obscurity.