The space shuttle Endeavor lifted off a few months ago, and its amazing speed and power has never ceased to amaze me. With a maximum speed of 19,000 miles per hour, it's fast. Awe-inspiring fast. It's a magnificent machine, highly complex. It took thousands of hours to build it, set it up, program it, and make it work. Mind-boggling.
But what do we do? We assemble to watch the final seconds of the countdown, the incredible liftoff, and the ascent through the atmosphere. About two minutes of video is enough to satiate the masses, though a small percentage digs deeper into written and video content.
Less is more
Twitter was born to deliver 140 characters per tweet. Early on, it was fascinating. As a Twitter user, you could follow people and easily catch up on what they were saying. Now, it's incredibly difficult to keep up with the 65 million tweets a day. Each tweet lasts a microsecond now before it is swept aside by the next. How do users keep up? They use filtering tools, lists, hashtag searches, and quick scans to see whether something catches their eye.
We're all walking around with more devices than ever before. At home, 94% of TV viewers are using some kind of "distraction device" while viewing TV, with smartphones accounting for 60% of that effect. More smartphones are now shipped than PCs, and tablets (led by the iPad) have taken off. Content aggregators like Flipboard and Zite have combined a single point of aggregation with beautiful, simple-to-use experiences. Users can easily and quickly navigate across stories until settling on one of interest.
In 2010, Nielsen's analysis of the Project for Excellence in Journalism's The State of the News Media found that users spent only six minutes per month per person on online sites for magazines (the epitome of long-form media). Leave it to the political news aggregation website Drudge Report to have the highest immersion rates, at roughly 60 minutes per user per month.
Quick response (QR) codes are popping up on everything from magazine advertisements to outdoor signage and business collateral. You can use a scanning app (such as RedLaser) on your smartphone, and quickly get immersed in an experience.
You can now stand in a store, scan a UPC code, and compare prices online and in neighboring stores. Location-based services, such as Foursquare, Groupon, and LivingSocial, rapidly facilitate a steady stream of offers and news items. And although more than 500,000 apps are available in the Apple App store, and thousands more with BlackBerry and Android, only 20% of apps are used more than once.