MY ATTENTION SPAN IS DWINDLING….. OR IS IT?

 

swipe

Swipe Gif by dribbble

 

SWIPE… SWIPE… SWIPE…

I THEN HOVER OVER AN INSTAGRAM VIDEO BUT THEN CHOOSE TO

 

SWIPE… SWIPE… SWIPE…

CLICK!

CONGRATULATIONS to the person who created the video that I eventually clicked!

OK, they got me to click BUT this is only the beginning of the challenge facing content creators…

How long will my attention span last once the video begins????

DigitalClock_1hour

Digital Stop Watch Gif from wikipedia

 

 

Before you read on, I would like to ask you to answer the following question in my poll:

 

Click on almost any music video today & you will see videos with insanely rapid cuts and endless varieties of camera angles. See Lady Gaga below for example:

The average shot length (ASL) according to VashiVisuals (Nedomansky, 2017) of Lady Gaga‘s Paparazzi is 0.8 seconds and that is long compared to Metallica‘s Enter Sandman (below) with an astounding ASL of 0.3 seconds……. CRAZY!

Gone are the days of Fred Astaire and the ONE SHOT videos…. OR ARE THEY?

The video above is one of my all-time favourites and the band, OKGO, were featured last year in an MTV (2017) article showcasing the wonder of One Shot Videos.

With over 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube EVERY minute & on average 8 Billion daily video views on Facebook (Smith, 2018), ALL creators of content face the ever challenging task of getting our attention and once they have our attention they then need to keep it (Weatherhead, 2014).

In an “age of acceleration” (Keen, 2018), Ads are getting shorter (Sweeney, 2018), videos are containing the vital facts within seconds to keep us engaged (Weatherhead, 2014), Snapchat is the norm (Naughton, 2017) and our need to do 100 things at once on our myriad of devices (DiNucci, 1999)(Cited in Allen, 2012) is adding to the already diagnosed “instant gratification” (Weatherhead, 2014) culture largely driven by our internet consumption.

“Instant gratification” (Weatherhead, 2014)

Arlen Kantarian, former chief executive of the United States Tennis Association, comments in a recent article (Clarke, 2018) that even the sports world are discussing how to “speed up play, given the shorter attention spans” of spectators.

I can openly say that I am a consumer, as Hetzel (2002)(Cited in Cova and Cova, 2012) illustrates, that has adopted a hedonistic approach to the way I seek to immerse myself in consumptive experiences (Cova and Cova, 2012).

“Consumers no longer have a complex about seeking pleasure through consumption” (Hetzel, 2002)(Cited in Cova and Cova, 2012)

I guess I am part of what Zwick, Bonsu and Darmody (2008) call the protean consumer mass – Protean meaning “able to change frequently” (Oxford Dictionaries).

 

What does the research say about our attention spans?

research-gif-6

Research Gif by GIFimage.net

 

 

In 2015, Microsoft released its findings to a study that told the world that our attention spans have decreased and in fact, our attention spans are lower than a goldfish (Microsoft, 2015).

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 22.21.52

Attention Span Scoreboard – Made with Piktochart

 

So many large publications (TIME Magazine, The Telegraph, The GuardianThe New York Times) all discussed this study. However, a BBC radio program, 2 years after the study was released queried some of the sources included in the study and uncovered that

“the figure that everyone picked up on – about our shrinking attention spans – did not actually come from Microsoft’s research. It appears in the report, but with a citation for another source called Statistic Brain” (Maybin, 2017)

The journalist – Simon Maybin – couldn’t track down any record of the research to back up the statistics that EVERYONE decided to focus on.

Open University Psychology Lecturer, Dr Gemma Briggs, who specialises in studying human attention disagreed with the Microsoft study and commented that the amount of attention we apply to what ever it is we are doing will vary from what is being demanded of us at that moment (Maybin, 2017)

Also, just to point out, the BBC article also ripped up the age old myth surrounding gold fish and their apparent lack of memory or short attention spans… Ironically, Professor Felicity Huntingford points out that neuro-psychologists and scientists actually use the fish species as “a model for studying memory formation” (Maybin, 2017).

Although some of the sources involved in the Microsoft publication have come under scrutiny, TIME Magazine highlights an interesting point suggested by Microsoft that our

“weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile Internet” (Microsoft, 2015)

Microsoft did make some wonderful conclusions about how our abilities are improving at processing information (Microsoft, 2015) and they suggest that marketers (which is really anyone who wants something seen) need to, NOW MORE THAN EVER, “defy expectations, leverage rich media and movement to grab attention” (Microsoft, 2015).

As we can ALL testify, it is so easy to swipe away, click somewhere else or open another page.

Perhaps our attention spans haven’t decreased…

Perhaps we have become accustomed to a high level of instant engagement in a world of instant gratification

Perhaps we have always needed things to GRAB OUR ATTENTION but there are now endless pieces of content fighting for our attention…

So the research doesn’t necessary prove that our attention spans are dwindling…. it’s just that we have got quicker at deciding what we like, what we want & if we are willing to invest our limited time in engaging with the content… Instagram have just introduced IGTV with a 1 hour video limit (Systrom, 2018) so our attention spans mustn’t be doing too bad as our Digital Culture continues to evolve through our fetish for technology (d’Arnault, 2015).

Whether you AGREE or DISAGREE that our attention spans are dwindling, why not find out how your attention span is doing?

The UK version of Psychology Today offers visitors to their site the opportunity to test their attention span in a short self-completed questionnaire. The test is made up of 10, mostly Pre-coded Open questions. The site makes a point of mentioning that the test is “intended for informational and entertainment purposes only” (Psychology Today, 2018) so its basically a bit of informative fun!

My results are below….. HAVE A GO YOURSELF CLICK HERE FOR THE TEST

Attention Span Test

My Attention Span Results from Psychology Today

 

References:
Allen, M. (2012). What Was Web 2.0? Versions as the Dominant Mode of Internet History. New Media & Society, 15(2), 260–275.
Clarke, L. (2018). Tennis could have reason to make matches shorter: Your shrinking attention span. Stuff New Zealand. Retrieved from: https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/tennis/104443941/tennis-could-have-reason-to-make-matches-shorter-your-shrinking-attention-span
Cova, B. and Cova, V. (2012). On the Road to Prosumption: Marketing Discourse and the Development of Consumer Competencies. Journal of Consumption, Markets and Culture, 15(2), 149-168. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253866.2012.654956 
d’Arnault, C. (2015, 20 October). What is Digital Culture: An Introduction to Digital Culturist. Digital Culturist. Retrieved from https://digitalculturist.com/what-is-digital-culture-5cbe91bfad1b
Keen, A. (2018) How to Fix the Future, Staying Human in the Digital Age. London: Atlantic Books.
Naughton, J. (2017). Is Snapchat the sign of a post-literary future? The Guardian. Retreieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/12/snapchat-sign-of-post-literary-future
Nedomansky, V. (2017). Average Shot Length Archives. Blog. Retreived from http://vashivisuals.com/category/one-sheets/average-shot-length-one-sheets/
Microsoft. (2015). Consumer Insights, Microsoft Canada: Attention spans. Research report. Retrieved from: https://www.scribd.com/document/265348695/Microsoft-Attention-Spans-Research-Report
MTV. (2017). 13 of the most amazing one-shot music video wonders this century. Retrieved from http://www.mtv.co.uk/kiesza/news/13-of-the-most-amazing-oneshot-music-video-wonders-this-century
Psychology Today. (2018). Attention Span Test. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/tests/personality/attention-span-test
Smith, K. (2018). 116 Amazing Social Media Statistics and Facts. Brandwatch. Retreived from https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/96-amazing-social-media-statistics-and-facts/
Systrom, K. (2018). Welcome to IGTV. Instagram. Retreived from: https://instagram-press.com/blog/2018/06/20/welcome-to-igtv/
Sweeney, E. (2018). Study: Online and on TV, consumers prefer longer ads to shorter ones. Retreived from https://www.marketingdive.com/news/study-online-and-on-tv-consumers-prefer-longer-ads-to-shorter-ones/526413/
Weatherhead, R. (2014). Say it quick, say it well – the attention span of a modern internet consumer. The Guardian. Retreived from https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2012/mar/19/attention-span-internet-consumer
Zwick, D., Bonsu, S. and Darmody, A. (2008). Putting Consumers to Work: ‘Co-creation’ and New Marketing Govern-mentality. Journal of Consumer Culture, 8(2), 163-196. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249671893_Putting_Consumers_to_Work_Co-creation_and_new_marketing_govern-mentality

7 thoughts on “MY ATTENTION SPAN IS DWINDLING….. OR IS IT?

  1. Hi Steven!

    This is an entertaining and informative post. I really liked the flow. It is pretty compatible with the age of acceleration. I read it through the end and did not get distracted at all. I had no idea that they were comparing our attention spans with the goldfish!

    The thing is, maybe you are right, maybe our attention span did not change, but do you think you are able to spend quality time with your friends when you go out? I went on a holiday with a friend of mine last week. We’ve spent seven days together, but we did not have a word. She was always busy with her phone. I even texted her once to get her attention while she was sitting right across the table. Most of the times she was unable to hear my questions since she was checking her feed on Twitter. I think we are evolving as the tools we use are changing. So, maybe, it can be possible for new generations to have genetically lower attention spans than the older ones. What do you think?

    Best,
    Isil

    Like

    1. Hi Isil,

      Thanks for your comments.
      I am sorry to hear that your friend wasn’t able to communicate verbally with you…..
      Perhaps next time you could try interact in a mutual way by initiating a conversation that involves what your friend is engaging in online??

      I agree with your point about us evolving as the tools change. It is very easy to let your life become run by technology. I am the first to say that technology is great and can really help in many ways. In our house, as we have 2 small children, we have adopted devices such as Apple TV, and my wife and I both use iPhones. That said, I always try to make sure any work related interaction with the devices ends when I walk through our house door. We occasionally use the devices to explore topics with the children such as googling what particular animals look like or where they live etc…..

      Finding a good balance between exposing them to technology without them living their lives through it is the goal!

      Thanks again for your feedback!

      Steven

      Like

    2. Hi Isil,
      I thought you would appreciate this paragraph from this weeks Lutz and Hoffmann (2017) reading, The Dark Side of Online Participation: Exploring Non-, Passive and Negative Participation, in relation to your friend letting her phone take over:

      ‘Some studies on participation in cultural, educational, or health domains find that users struggle to transfer online social capital to the offline world, with some neglecting offline relationships in favor of online ties’ (Nonnecke, Andrews, & Preece, 2006; Rodgers & Chen, 2005).

      Lutz, C., & Hoffmann, C. P. (2017). The Dark Side of Online Participation: Exploring Non-, Passive and Negative Participation. Information, Communication & Society, 20(6), 876–897. Retrieved from: https://0-www-tandfonline-com.lib.exeter.ac.uk/doi/full/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1293129?scroll=top&needAccess=true

      Like

  2. Hi Steven!
    First of all: Great Blog, very informative, interactive and therefore entertaining. You had my attention span from the beginning until the end – for longer than 8 seconds! I look at my hands – still hands, no fins. Wait what?

    The comparison between humans’ attention span and the ones of goldfish’ really caught my attention! And obviously Maybin (2017) did a really good job at “busting the attention span myth”! I would like to add my thoughts to that…
    Immeadiately after reading your post I went on Google and looked up the definition of “attention span”. It came up with the Cambridge Dicitonary explaining: “the length of time that someone can keep their thoughts and interest fixed on something”. I believe the word “can” ist key here and invites to question the use of the phrase “attention span” in all these discourses. In my opinion there should be at least three versions of the phrase “attention span”. Here are my examples:

    Attention span (1): “The length of time that someone CAN keep their thoughts and interest fixed on something.”
    Attention span (2): “The length of time that someone IS WILLING to keep their thoughts and interest fixed on something”
    Attention span (3)(maybe not even worth the phrase “attention span” anymore): “The average time for one frame in video content, that the producer of this content is trying to catch the consumer’s interest with.”

    What do you think about this? This maybe would enable a discourse that is a bit more differentiated! Looking forward to your replay tbh!

    https://www.bbc.com/news/health-38896790

    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/de/worterbuch/englisch/attention-span

    Like

  3. Hi Steven,

    I took that test which told me I have a short attention span, but i could have told them that. Though their explanation of the results weren’t correct but the test doesn’t take into account other issues like my OCD and my high anxiety, and low self-esteem.

    I believe that our shortened attention spans have to do with what is needed to fully succeed in today’s society, such as multi-tasking. My favorite hobby growing up was reading. I could easily read 100 books a year. It remained that way until mid high school when there was more required of you with school work and trying to keep up with your hobbies and social life. By the time I started my first job at 15 I became a multi-tasking extraordinaire. By the time I was finished with culinary school I couldn’t just do one thing anymore as I got bored easily or felt i should be more productive. Even as I type this I have Netflix on, painting my nails, texting with 2 people, and yelling at the cat to stop eating plastic, and I still feel liking i’m not doing anything. I’ve had your blog opened since this morning and it took me all day to read as I’d keep wondering off doing other things.

    Reading your post you most definitely picked a good subject for your future ambitions. Your examples with music videos could easily be compared with ballet and dance. My preferred ballet viewing is mostly the abstracts as there’s constant dancing and less acting. Sleeping beauty is a good example of my attention span. The prince comes in, dances for about 10 minutes then spends about 20 just running around the stage with the lilac fairy. I usually lose focus at that point and do chores until the divertissement, or fast forward. Though to be fair that seems to be the norm for the classical ballets where men seem to be there to prop the ballerina *cough* Swan Lake *cough* and/or just run around the stage chasing her. Its very one sided dancing.

    Ballets such as La Fille Mal Gardee and Romeo and Juliet however are both story ballets as well, but they have a better flow. (in my opinion of course) They still have the elements of acting but its more integrated with the dancing leading to better and more fluid story telling that hold your attention better. When you can’t use words you have to use the music and your body to tell a story. Ashton and Macmillan were brilliant at it, right down to the corps. I can’t think of an example with their work where I had to go ‘wtf is going on’ in the story.

    That I personally feel is important. I only came into watching ballet about 3 years ago. I had always been fascinated by it but watching it I couldn’t figure out the story and honestly it made me feel really dumb. My attention span is greatly diminished further when the subject makes me feel stupid, as I’m sure many do as well.

    I have more to say on the subject, but my attention span is dwindling and i’m sure yours is too.

    Sorry if this posts twice i had login issues.

    Like

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