Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries

Is this short enough?


random thought: does attention span scale to size of screen?

I was just teased for the length of an email I sent. I do tend to send long emails, as I generally think they are less irritating than several short ones. (I do also worry that some points will get lost in longer emails, but for now I’m still favoring 1 over many)

But, as I was sassing back at the GenY fellow who razzed me, I realized he may have been reading my email on his smart phone.

I also realized that I read differently on my office computer (largest screen) than my home computer (a formerly respectably sized monitor, now sufferering from an inferiority complex). And I avoid reading some things altogether on my stylish but teensy eee laptop.

But does the probable rapid adoption of mobile small screen devices mean we will all have to communicate in a length easily readable on a single iPhone screen?? Scholarly communication reduced to twitter posts?

Less apocalyptically apoplectic, I’m going to have to spend some time thinking about the impact of tiny screens on length of discourse. And I suspect I’ll land on the curnudgeon side, the scholalry side, the side that says life and learning and scholarship are complex, and deserve some attention and some time, and some space.

What say you?


7 thoughts on “Is this short enough?

  1. Yes time 2 change up email (I’d say more, but obviously there’s no room!) 🙂

  2. With the explosion of information on the Internet, people’s attention spans have shrunk. I think more people read a paragraph or two to get an idea of an article or blog post and then move on if the writing doesn’t grab them, especially if someone else has written about in a more concise form. Still, some topics require more in depth coverage and shouldn’t be shortened for the sake of attention spans. I wouldn’t write long wordy turns of phrase just for the sake of ego, but if it takes more words to illustrate your point, then so be it.

  3. I think many issues are complicated and can’t be dealt with properly in “sound bite” communication. I have often been criticized for going on too long, and recently was almost fired for that reason. So I’m with you.

  4. I’m on the curmudgeon side. Give me a three-page-long email any day.

  5. Screen size is part of context now, I think. Just as certain topics don’t get discussed in certain company, we have to learn what can be read on which media. I flip through my Google Reader feeds on my phone when I’m waiting for a bus, but if I have a hunch that the blog post will take some time to read (and star, and tag, and maybe forward to someone…) then I don’t even open it while I’m using my phone. I keep those “unread” till I’m on my computer, using a decent screen… like now. 🙂

    Maybe this is a new sort of personal etiquette? Can it be etiquette when it only involves one person? Or is this a form of information hygiene? Hm.

  6. I wasn’t reading your novel on a smart phone. I mainly razzed you because it was the umpteenth long email you sent out that day. 🙂

  7. I agree that screen size is part of context just like company present and topic.

    I am more likely to read a longer email (and quicker) when I’m on my ginormous work laptop. However, I will never save for later the 3 pager i receive on my phone from my pen pal, but probably will when it’s work related.

    I suppose it’s also tolerance levels.

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