Why you wonâ€™t finish this article.
Eric Barker stashed this in Tech
Stashed in: The Web, Best PandaWhale Posts, Focus!, Blogs!, Attention, @bakadesuyo, Awesome, There is no finish line., Multitasking, Whatever., tl;dr, Writing!, Active Users, Never give up., Ain't nobody got time for that!
Iâ€™m going to keep this brief, because youâ€™re not going to stick around for long. Iâ€™ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of youâ€”38 percentâ€”are already gone. You â€śbouncedâ€ť in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time â€śengagingâ€ť with this page at all.
So now there are 100 of you left. Nice round number. But not for long! Weâ€™re at the point in the page where you have to scroll to see more. Of the 100 of you who didnâ€™t bounce, five are never going to scroll. Bye!
OK, fine, good riddance. So weâ€™re 95 now. A friendly, intimate crowd, just the people who want to be here. Thanks for reading, folks! I was beginning to worry about your attention span, even your intellig â€¦ wait a second, where are you guys going? Youâ€™reÂ tweetingÂ a link to this article already? You havenâ€™t even read it yet! What if I go on to advocate something truly awful, like a constitutional amendment requiring that we allÂ type two spaces after a period?
That's hilarious...because I've done it... And I do type two spaces after a period. Consistently. Like the breath in the middle of a convo... I've argued this w my literary types, alongside the Oxford Comma... it stays.Â
It takes a while to break that habit.
Aha! I knew it!!
Schwartzâ€™s data shows that readers canâ€™t stay focused. The more I type, the more of you tune out. And itâ€™s not just me. Itâ€™s not justÂ Slate. Itâ€™s everywhere online. When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people donâ€™t even make it halfway. Even more dispiriting is the relationship between scrolling and sharing. Schwartzâ€™s data suggest that lots of people are tweeting out links to articles they havenâ€™t fully read. If you see someone recommending a story online, you shouldnâ€™t assume that he has read the thing heâ€™s sharing.
Often I do read them. But not 100%. You got me.Â
my cheat is adam! Â i love his snippet-approach to sharing articles... like right here.
I wish we could figure out a way to automate me.
No one has attention span anymore.
Chartbeatâ€™s data shows that most readers scroll to about the 50 percent mark, or the 1,000thpixel, inÂ SlateÂ stories. Thatâ€™s not very far at all. I looked at a number of recent pieces to see how much youâ€™d get out of a story if you only made it to the 1,000thÂ pixel. Take Mario Vittoneâ€™s piece,Â published this week, on the warning signs that someone might be drowning. If the top of your browser reached only the 1,000thÂ pixel in that article, the bottom of your browser would be at around pixel number 1,700 (the typical browser window is 700 pixels tall). At that point, youâ€™d only have gotten to warning signs No. 1 and 2â€”youâ€™d have missed the fact that people who are drowning donâ€™t wave for help, that they cannot voluntarily control their arm movements, and one other warning sign I didnâ€™t get to because I havenâ€™t finished reading that story yet.
Dammit, IMs and smart phones are ruining us!
Or look atÂ John Dickersonâ€™s fantastic article about the IRS scandal or something. If you only scrolled halfway through that amazing piece, you would have read just the first four paragraphs. Now, trust me when I say that beyond those four paragraphs, John made some really good points about whatever it is his article is about, some strong points thatâ€”without spoiling it for youâ€”you really have to read to believe. But of course you didnâ€™t read it because you got that IM and then you had to look at a video and then the phone rang â€¦
It's sad because it's true:
But whatâ€™s the point of all that? Schwartz tells me that on a typicalÂ SlateÂ page, only 25 percent of readers make it past the 1,600thÂ pixel of the page, and weâ€™re way beyond that now. Sure, like every other writer on the Web, I want my articles to be widely read, which means I want you to Like and Tweet and email this piece to everyone you know. But if you had any inkling of doing that, youâ€™d have done it already. Youâ€™d probably have done it just after reading the headline and seeing the picture at the top. Nothing I say at this point matters at all.
We live in the age of skimming.
Finally, while I hate to see these numbers when I consider them as a writer, as a reader Iâ€™m not surprised. I read tons of articles every day. I share dozens of links on Twitter and Facebook. But how many do I read in full? How many do I share after reading the full thing? Honestlyâ€”and I feel comfortable saying this because even momâ€™s stopped reading at this pointâ€”not too many. I wonder, too, if this applies to more than just the Web. With ebooks and streaming movies and TV shows, itâ€™s easier than ever, now, to switch to something else. In the past year my wife and I have watched at least a half-dozen movies to about the 60 percent mark. There are several books on my Kindle Iâ€™ve never experienced past Chapter 2. Though I loved it and recommend it to everyone, I never did finish the British version of the teen dramaÂ Skins.Â Battlestar Galactica, tooâ€”bailed on it in the middle, hoping to one day jump back in. Will I? Probably not.
Maybe this is just our cultural lot: We live in the age of skimming. I want to finish the whole thing, I really do. I wish you would, too. Reallyâ€”stop quitting! But who am I kidding. Iâ€™m busy. Youâ€™re busy. Thereâ€™s always something else to read, watch, play, or eat.
OK, this is where Iâ€™d come up with some clever ending. But who cares? You certainly donâ€™t. Letâ€™s just go with this:Â KickerÂ TK.
Yes! I made it to the end...
this is hilarious! Â it reminds me of a paper i wrote in which i inserted the phrase "i'll bet you haven't read this far" three times from the midway point on. Â as i suspected, my professor didn't catch them. Â all he gave me was a lazy B+ written on the front, with no comments at all. Â :)
Nice trap! I'm regularly surprised at what gets missed when we skim.
I miss a lot when I skim. And even when I don't.Â
What I'm saying is that I miss a lot.
And I miss you, Emily.
5 ways to approve your attention span, by Eric Barker: