Feb 20, 2009

Lost amidst a 1000 windows!

We live in strange times…

We sms while dining…eat while watching tv…read, check mail while in a meeting…catch up with friends on chat while at work …take our cell phone with us to sleep…some of us even take it to shower!

Constantly flitting between open windows on the computer…we perennially scan the environment around us so as to no miss anything. Linda Stone calls it a state of ‘continuous partial attention’

There is suddenly so much information all around and so much to catch up with that it leaves one feeling challenged. The info-glut creates a sense of info-guilt…a constant feeling that there is so much out there that I don’t know – books I haven’t read, movies I haven’t seen and therefore the race against time to catch up with things leaving us hurried and restless.

We are so busy keeping tabs on everything that we find it difficult to focus on anything for too long. Shortening attention spans would impact what kind of information and how much we will be able to absorb. We’ve started enjoying T-20 as opposed to test matches, reading blog posts, microblogs and tweets instead of thick tomes. The bytes are reducing to as much as we can chew. At a movie theatre after a standard 2.5 hour movie I overheard people say that movies are becoming too long these days…who has the patience? Short film may not seem like such an offbeat format in the future.

A few days back I was at the Kala Ghoda Festival. A crowd of people waited patiently around a stage waiting for a classical dancer to appear and perform. Someone introduced her with what seemed like a never-ending list of her credentials…checked sound…and finally she arrived. Instead of performing…she decided to lecture the audience for a few minutes…and disappeared again back stage… and another round of sound testing – by which time I had lost patience and moved away from the stage to a more alluring part of the festival buzzing with activity. Had I paid to watch the performance I would have been mentally prepared to spend 2 hours of my time dedicated to this activity but at the festival I was out for a quick round of fun. More over the environment around has way too much stimulus to have me standing there firmly by the stage.

Many a time brands expect us to do just that…marketers assume that people would focus on and be wowed by what their brand is saying or doing or selling. In the hope of grabbing attention, the claims made by some brands mirror this hurry sickness that consumer’s are gripped by. Personal care products till a few years back promised visible results after many weeks / months of continued product usage. Then came Ponds that promised an anti-ageing miracle in just 7 days. As if that was not miracle enough Pantene now assures you that their product will strip your hair off 3 months of damage (and god knows what else) in 3 minutes! At this rate I can’t imagine what the next advertiser will say to try and sell his product…what could be faster than 3 minutes – just think of my brand and you’ll turn beautiful maybe!

Instead of shouting louder and faster brands that help consumers manage interruption will be valued. One that caught my attention was UrgeMe. Once I set a reminder on their site they send me a email telling me You are supposed to call xyz for shopper info before 13-Feb-2009.Don’t forget to do it.

And now…in the interest of not grabbing more of your attention…I’ll let you go this time. Do come back for more :)

Cross-posted at - http://chlog.chlorophyll.in/