Thursday, August 13, 2009

How Online Innovation is Changing How We Communicate

I was on a flight last week and picked up the new August edition of USAir’s in-flight magazine. What struck me about this edition was that it listed four bloggers as contributors. Visiting their website I later learned that over a dozen bloggers were listed as regular contributors with various interests, from food to education and medicine…not just travel, as you would expect.

On the return flight, I found a copy of the latest edition of GQ in the back of the seat. Flipping through it I noticed a section that featured an IM string among 5 individuals, riffing on subjects ranging from the latest movie release to music on their iPods. It read like a stream of consciousness written by someone with ADD, but I will say it did convey a tremendous amont of information in a pretty interesting less than 500 words.

That same week, I posted a badge on my site that links to a new blog aggregator focused on the B2B Marketing space. I’ve been invited to be a feature contributor to B2B Marketing Zone. Although I’m not crazy about the moniker of being an official “Rock Star Blogger” I really like the layout of the site and its goal of aggregating the “best information on the web about B2B Marketing.”

How do all these things hang together? In an article in the in-flight magazine (written by a contributing blogger) entitled The Internet Has Made Us Lazy the author/blogger makes the comment that "There is a ton of content flowing online, but most of it is not worth consuming (and certainly not worth paying for)." It got me thinking about the future of how content is created, aggregated, distributed and communicated.

If we are influenced and/or shaped by the latest technologies (which I strongly believe), we will all soon be writing in very short, informative statements of less than 140 words. The popularity of Twitter and similar applications is accelerating an already shrinking attention span and producing a tremendous amount of noise in the system. The challenge we’re now facing is how to create more (that is also better) with less…more relevant/timing/insightful information using less words (for example, an average reader of a blog post stays roughly 96 seconds).

Magazine articles that used to be 2-3 or more pages are now being written like blog posts. As I mentioned, GQ is experimenting with using an IM string as a more rapid fire dump of information. As this trend continues, I believe you will soon see (or see more of) the following:

  • Shorter magazine articles and newspaper columns (think USA Today, and not NY Times) with more features/columns on the front page.

  • Shorter, more informative (more fact, less opinion) blog posts that feed more offline publications.

  • Increased use of blogs aggregators and more “smart” search capabilities…lots of information connecting in multiple ways that can be searched quickly. Bing is only the beginning.

  • Integration of platforms that augment a communication stream….email, IM, photo sharing, etc. e.g. Google Wave.

  • And if a picture is worth a thousand words...then look for more video and images (and new tools like Cooliris)...and less words on websites.

Now, if I could only find a way to say more with less...