“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
That’s an (incredibly) short story written by Ernest Hemingway that’s the basis for a WIRED magazine feature on six word stories. WIRED invited some big names (Margaret Atwood, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling among others) to participate and you can see the results here.
Of course, what becomes obvious after reading the entries is that there are very few Hemingways out there. Many of the submissions (and keep in mind that these are professional writers) are not stories. They’re headlines. Or summaries of stories. Or first lines. But they don’t convey the right possibilities and implied despair of the Hemingway piece.
The lesson is this – sometimes we need more resources to successfully communicate our ideas. Fard Jonmar (of Path of the Blue Eye fame) and I were talking about this at lunch yesterday. Fard is using everything from transmedia to new trends in data visualization to grab readers’ attention.Because it seems like that attention span is getting shorter every day.
We were discussing the new trend of integrating Twitterstreams in to conference presentations and whether this actually distracted the audience from giving their full attention to the presenter. Are we heading to a future where presenters speak in Tweetable soundbites and bigger,complex concepts are rarely tackled in this kind of venue?
It’s time we thought again about how we discuss complex concepts and educate consumers and other audiences. Blogs are still an extremely effective means of communicating ideas (so is digital video). But can’t we improve on existing blog software? What about creating new visual methods or languages to effectively convey ideas? Or evolving the traditional Powerpoint or Keynote presentation by developing new functions or tools that help everyone present better. If tweets, Facebook status updates and texting have become the status quo in our accelerated culture, how can we convey information in a manner that speaks to our societal ADD?
How do you communicate in a way that conveys your key points or brand messages without losing the audience’s attention? How do you make sure you don’t sell yourself short?