While starting to write this, I caught myself cycling. Jumping quickly from Facebook to Twitter to my email to my phone and then Snapchat and so on. This happens all the time; there’s so much noise out there pulling my attention away from everything else. That same noise is affecting the content that I’m putting out.
There are many factors that have contributed to this feeling of “information overload” in the last decade. But this isn’t a new phenomenon. As writing became more common in Ancient Greece, Plato decried that “this discovery will create forgetfulness in the learner’s soul.” European scholars felt the abundance of books created by Gutenberg’s printing press was ruinous, even comparing it to an epidemic. And of course there’s the World Wide Web, with its ever growing glut of content and big data.
While writing and books aren’t bad-mouthed anymore (though this may depend on where you are), the age of the Internet may actually be the wave that really overwhelms us. Plato could never have imagined a constant stream of information flashing before your eyes in every waking moment. How can you make sure the content you produce is engaging?
Recommendations make navigating the world a little easier. Trusting something is easier knowing it has good reviews or that a friend actively enjoys it. Recommendation systems like Netflix’s movie recommendations or Spotify’s Discover Weekly are a much valued part of their respective platform. It is worth delving into how your work is being recommended – not just shared – especially if you’re in the process of crafting viral strategies. The future of big data is intelligent Recommendation AI that are capable of using all the data that’s out there about what others are reading and enjoying and using that data to recommend relating and engaging content. As machine learning and AI takes off, staying on top of the revolution is something I’d highly recommend.
No more clickbait
I have a bad habit of oversubscribing to email lists. If it seems tangentially related to something I’m interested or doing, I think “why not?” One of my favorites is CBInsights newsletter which focuses on analyzing the data of private companies and their markets. And my favorite thing about them is that their emails is that the subject line sounds natural. As a conscious consumer of content on the internet, I’m more likely to stay engaged if I don’t feel actively manipulated by what I’m looking at. Be cognizant of the articles you’re putting out and make sure they’re trying to provide real value; not just clicks.
Steal like an artist
Poet and author Austin Rheon’s book Steal Like an Artist lives on my coffee table. It’s small and square and very black, in fact its actual shape looks very artsy and creative. Rheon’s book has an interesting thesis – nothing is completely original and all creative work builds on what came before. And this artsy looking book that I originally bought for its looks holds a capital T Truth. Through the noise of all the information, anybody who cares about putting their work on the internet should be constantly stealing. Their is modern-day Library of Alexandria at all of our fingertips and this way, the Information Age is a blessing. There is so much to take from that there will always be a chance of finding inspiration. The web is full of great content, help showcase some of it by retweeting/curating.