Parents often complain that the attention span of their children is shorter than ever. With the explosion of internet video that trend is working its way through people of all ages. Is video making Americans dumber? By some accounts the optimal length of a video clip is something close to one minute and fifty seconds. It’s common to see videos at lengths at less than three minutes. For the most part people simply do not have the desire to watch longer clips.
Multi-tasking is a requirement for today’s professionals and has made workers around the world more productive and more valuable – although it seems that few people get compensated more for their added productivity. While it’s said that a picture is worth one thousand words, I’ve not seen any statements related to how many words a video might be worth. Some interesting evidence of the shrinking length of videos can be found here – http://bit.ly/MI5qoO
As a ‘print’ guy who has turned his attention to video I well understand the value of video as a communication tool. Yet I cannot help wondering at what cost is all of this bite-sized communication. Longer form reading is decidedly less popular for many people than it was ten or twenty years ago. Why? Well for one thing watching video is simply a less active pursuit than reading. For example, who the heck has time to read an entire issue of The Economist (easily two hours to read the entire thing and it comes every single week)?
Video is the medium of choice for most people and that trend is only strengthening. It’s not as if people are going to dispense with reading altogether. However it’s evident that people read much less than they did even ten years ago much less twenty years ago. And nearly all would agree that watching video is a very different experience than reading.
Does watching a short video have the same impact as reading an article that takes the exact same amount of time? Finding evidence to support or refute this contention is difficult and I was unable to come up with any real data answering that question. I’m not certain but I feel that reading something would be ‘stickier’ than watching something.
So my question is this, is video making people dumber?