On Visual Storytelling, Marketing and "...The average human attention span is down to 8 seconds..."

  • Gonna present a poster in a scientific conference about Visual Storytelling for science - part of my job!

    Started reading a bit more on the definitions of visual storytelling, even though it seems like any of us can grasp it's concept without having to refer to wikipedia. @Lee-White even provided a definition in one of his Visual Storytelling classes and I almost wanted to quote him.

    Anyway... I found this interesting article that brings the definition to a Marketing approach. I liked that the author brought up the main issue with nowadays communication. Quoted below:

    "To paint the picture in broader strokes, we see that the communications landscape today is strongly marked by 2 opposing forces:

    1. Content explosion: a dramatic and continual increase in content production,

    “4.6 billion pieces of content are produced every day” – LinkedIn

    and content consumption is further enabled by greater broadband and mobile access

    70% of the world mobile data traffic will be video by 2020” – Cisco


    1. Decreased user attention span: a marked and well-documented downshift in focus

    The average human attention span is down to 8 seconds -Microsoft"

    You can read the whole article here:

    So... you can imagine the problems that lie ahead. High demand of content. You kill yourself producing something that people will spend 8 seconds (or less) on it. Wondering if the whole field of visual storytelling will be adapting to creating pieces that do the job of grabbing your attention in only 8 seconds. But that is not the main point I want to discuss now.

    We are living in a saturated era. Probably everyone in the past (100 or 1000 or 10k years ago) said the same. But I just thought that this could be some food for thought after reading some posts on the difficulties of establishing a career in this artistic field. @smceccarelli @Eric-Castleman

    Too many people getting university degrees and PhD degrees. Too many people without stable jobs trying alternatives. Too many alternative resources for you to learn and to start your own business available. Too many people selling alternative resources because this is their alternative career. Too many competent and incompetent people trying to make a living.

    When this happens, the selection system also acts more intensively.

    Interestingly, if there were less people, the problem would be the same. Less people trying to produce art would also mean that there were less clients, less alternative resources (if any), less opportunities and so on.

    The system is always well balanced - it doesn't mean that well balanced equals being a sea of roses. It is not the fairytale fantasy kind of harmony. If there are too many deers in the savannah, there will be more food for the lions. They eat well, reproduce well and increase their population. Big lion population eat too many deers, less food for too many lions, they die. The system balances itself by removing a portion of itself, such that the other portion also gets removed. Actually, a lot of people studying economics learn their strategies from these events in the wild!

    The fear of not breaking into the field may lead you to remove yourself from it. That is the system balancing itself. Of course there are other factors that may lead to you "giving up" on it. But at the end of the day, giving up is the thing that doesn't break through the doors of any field. It is not a bad thing if you accept it and happily embark on a new journey in another field - for some reason, we penalize "giving up" when we should say "I wish you well on your new journey, but just make sure you embark on a new journey!".

    This reminds me of this very inspirational video:



  • Pro SVS OG

    I’ve worked in PR and communication for the last five years - some of that time in scientific communications. If you google “Drawn to Science” you will find some of my work 😉
    I respectfully disagree with the statistics on the reduction of the attention span - not that they are false (though I am not sure how you can measure that reliably), but they are misleading. The key word is “average”. While content is constantly increasing, time -as we all know- is a finite and non-stretchable quantity. The result is that - on average- each piece of content will receive less time. That’s as obvious as warm water and doesn’t mean much.
    The good, interesting, engaging content will still be read/seen and people will spend time with it. Otherwise nobody would watch good movies or read books anymore ;-))
    Due the mass of content, however, the competition for attention is fierce, and the quality of the content becomes more important than ever before.
    And that, of course, applies to artists as to any other content creator...

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