Monday, April 16, 2007

Snacking trends vs. traditional content meal consumption

Web 2.0 added a real-life dimension to the internet; from reality clips on YouTube, to real comments at online forums, to Second Life. This has also led to the observation of multimedia interaction trends similar to those of human food consumption.

As opposed to the traditional consumption of content defined by reading a full article or watching a complete movie (synonymous with a complete meal), a new trend of content snacking is emerging; from RSS feeds that only display headlines/snip-its of articles, to mobile episodes of 24. The same snacking consumers do have occasional online meals, but mostly so when they have sampled the content through a snack and believe there is merit in consuming it. Content snacking is somewhat like receiving an executive summary on elements of interest.

Some examples of content snacks include:
Thumbnails, email headers, widgets on MACs/Vista desktops, 30second Nintendo games, SMS, MMS, YouTube (sports highlights and other), news feeds on Facebook, mobile porn, ring-tones (as opposed to songs), tip of the day, “previously on …” TV recaps (for 24, lost etc.), dashboards in general, and the list goes on…

Time has always been of the essence, and as we drive down the calendar more and more services are catering to time optimization. Snacking services are one example, they provide information overload in seconds and help people know a little about everything and the hyperlinks allow you to click through what you’re interested in for a full multi-course meal.
People’s attention spans are certainly getting shorter especially with the content overload one is exposed to online; an interesting snacking service I came across was Radio SASS (Short Attention Span System) a website that offers shortened songs allowing users to “get the memorable heart of each song, with an average length of approximately two minutes with no self indulgent guitar solos, no long intros, no repetition of choruses again and again.”
I first heard about this trend from the 3GSM World Telecom Congress 2007 in Barcelona.

Lesson learned: minimize content, or provide summaries for your readers allowing them to delve into only the content they are interested in.

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