bite size chunks of information

A few years ago, I used to wri­te lon­ger e‑mails. Some reci­pi­ents would appre­cia­te it, others pro­bab­ly did­n’t — but only my sis­ter had the guts to direct­ly tell me: “I don’t have the time to read your novels”.

She, being a lawy­er by pro­fes­si­on, likes it short and pre­cise. Why was­te more words on a sto­ry if you can say it with a few words?

Twit­ter taught me a simi­lar approach — 140 cha­rac­ters may be enough for some basic messages and thr r sm hu hv lrnt hw 2 abbrev. cntnt 2 fit in2 a msg.

And this isn’t even about the length of messages, but rather about how 2 keep things short — and thus interesting?

I’ve expe­ri­en­ced this mys­elf while reply­ing to cus­to­mers or else wri­ting to tho­se who are known for recei­ving lots of e‑mails per day. The moment I star­ted kee­ping it very short, they instant­ly replied. This espe­cial­ly works with über­wo­men who like to hand­le their job, the kids na kad­ha­li­ka at once. Ano­t­her gre­at way to recei­ve a reply from such a per­son is to give her fixed options:

Am I prejudiced?

[ ] yes
[ ] no
[ ] maybe

Serious­ly, the shor­ter your ques­ti­on, the ear­lier you’ll recei­ve an ans­wer. Keep it short & simple.

Tell me, with the load of infor­ma­ti­on out the­re in news­pa­pers and your rss feed rea­der, which one do you actual­ly read? The shor­ter ones? Would you just scan head­lines and may­be also only read the teaser?

Am asking becau­se my fian­cée just told me that her 11–12 yrs old pupils in school do neit­her know the dif­fe­rence bet­ween Chi­na and Japan, nor that Tokyo (Metro­po­lis) is the capi­tal of Japan. “You can not expect them to know this”, she was told her by her boss. Which obvious­ly chan­ges all your plans while pre­pa­ring lec­tu­ring material.

Kids do know a lot of other — some­ti­mes useless — stuff the­se days. And what they don’t know, or what isn’t shown on TV or You­Tube, will be searcha­ble via Goog­le. “Know­ledge” as such has never been more accessible.

So…knowledge or infor­ma­ti­on on one hand, and on the other hand the way we com­mu­ni­ca­te. The­se very same kids have grown up with SMS, MMS, the tele­pho­ne, video replies on You­Tube, instant mess­sen­gers and col­la­bo­ra­ti­ve Goog­le documents.

Speed and instant com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on mat­ter the­se days, fame and/or fol­lo­wers, acces­si­ble know­ledge 24/7/365, fast typ­ing abi­li­ties, ans­wers to ques­ti­ons. The jour­ney way we com­mu­ni­ca­te is the destination.

I am sure you’­ve mean­while all heard about Goog­le Wave and how it will revo­lu­tio­ni­ze the inter­net and the way we com­mu­ni­ca­te. Well it may achie­ve this chan­ge, eit­her now or wit­hin the next three years (see: Twit­ter breakthrough/acceptance in main­stream Ger­man media). But I keep on com­ing back to the initi­al ques­ti­on: is this the way we real­ly want to com­mu­ni­ca­te with each other? That is: typ­ing short instant messages into our (mobi­le) devices and reply­ing direct­ly on point to a question.

A real­ly good examp­le for the atten­ti­on defi­cit a lot of peop­le are suf­fe­ring from (I think it all star­ted with MTV-sty­led cuts on tv) seems to be the Goog­le Wave Deve­lo­per Pre­view video which is over 80 minu­tes long. Tha­t’s 80 minu­tes of geeks tal­king about a new tech­no­lo­gy. Would you watch it?

Sin­ce 80 minu­tes are a damn long time for most pre­sen­ta­ti­ons, the­re are various short ver­si­ons of the Goog­le Wave video avail­ab­le online that sum up all the dif­fe­ren­ces bet­ween nor­mal e‑mail com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on and the Goog­le Wave approach.

Some­thing simi­lar app­lies to blog posts. With com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on tools like Twit­ter all around, I feel that ppl not only mini­mi­ze the time they’­ve pre­vious­ly spent on blogs, but also stop rea­ding tho­se with lon­ger blog posts. Not becau­se their con­tent isn’t that inte­res­ting — but a) becau­se of other, com­pe­ting online con­tent (on the feed rea­der) and b) becau­se it takes time to read all this stuff here.

What I am real­ly afraid of and my rea­son for this blog post is that we will lose a fee­ling for the poe­try bet­ween the lines and our abi­li­ty to spend time on lon­ger arti­cles — just becau­se com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on as such is so much more dif­fe­rent nowa­days and somehow also uncon­scious­ly chan­ges the way we read.

Could this sce­n­a­rio be true?

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