Chances are you’re not reading much these days – you’re mostly browsing, viewing, scanning. Reading takes time, and every second counts in a zero attention-span economy.
All marvels of technology fail when it comes to adding an extra hour to the day. Given the overwhelming number of apps, social networks, blogs, TV channels, and mobile services fighting for precious moments with us, time is of the essence.
This gives Internet companies with a visual product a natural advantage. Pinterest and Instagram became enormous hits because they make it quick and easy to discover what’s out there on the Wild Wild Web. Similarly, Vine has turned into social media’s YouTube, because who has more than six seconds for all of their friends’ videos anyway?
Vine’s owner, Twitter, has taken notice: Even 140 characters can become overwhelming, multiplied by a gazillion tweets – so Twitter is pushing more and more photos into the never-ending stream of updates.
Will that be enough? Putting images next to text is simple but doesn’t really improve the experience. (And remember, it’s all about the experience.) So my guess is that we will see some newcomer rise to the top who manages to combine images and information in new ways – like, say, the Swiss startup Urturn or ThingLink from Finland (close relatives are Pict and Stipple).
Both approach information overload in new ways that are more playful, yet also more powerful. That can be helpful for journalistic storytelling – but it’s even more interesting to brands that want to interact with their customers as if they’re a friend.
You could easily imagine what I did here with Lyft (completely without prompting by the company) as a managed campaign to drive brand engagement – far better than any display advertising ever could. Looking for the future of native advertising and content marketing? It may be right here.
As for reading? Well, there’s always the good old book or high-gloss magazine – on paper even. Assuming you’ll find the time for it.