I find it amazing how limited our collective attention span frequently proves to be. One day, the whole world is up in arms about a particular issue, the next they’ve all but forgotten.
In a world permeated by real-time streams of information, this is an easy trend to see. Twitter, for example, is a constant stream of content. When you’re viewing the stream, you’re engaged. When you’re not plugged in, though, you can miss a wealth of content.
Unfortunately, the rapid-fire nature of the medium doesn’t lend well to reviewing the content of previous time periods. If you take an hour off of Twitter, that hour’s content is likely lost to you forever.
The same is true for other social networks. Facebook, for example, is trying to beat the trend by hiding the “most recent” stream of content behind a few settings buttons. Instead, they attempt to curate “the top news” for your stream – successfully resurfacing “interesting” stories for you hours, days, or even weeks after they’d otherwise be buried in your feed.
None of this changes the fact that we have a limited ability to pay attention to the world around us.
In many ways, chronological blogs – like this one – are similar to media streams like Twitter and Facebook. Thankfully, I’m not publishing content in this space every few minutes, but the site does resemble a chronological feed of information in which individual pieces can be easily lost to time.
When I look through visitor stats, it’s the most recent articles and the homepage that draw the majority of views. A handful of older posts do very well in search engine ranking, so they bring in a large number of viewers as well.
The majority of this site’s content – 470+ individual articles – goes relatively unnoticed. I personally go back and review the archives from time to time and am absolutely floored by some of the content I find.
Marketing articles on actionable ways to measure relative brand value. Essays about faith, growth, and the responsibility of members of a church. A (still remarkably accurate) list of 10 “commandments” for web design. Random poetry.
I’ve spent years building this body of content – and the format of a chronological blog serves only to surface the most recent content, even if it’s not necessarily the most valuable. I wonder if there’s a way to either challenge or work around our collective lack of attention to build a site in such a way that all content can be seen for its inherent value rather than its timeliness.
A way to make the best content always available and constantly surfaced regardless of its age.