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Guest Post by Bernie Wolford

By January 30, 2012May 1st, 2013No Comments

In the Future, People Won’t Read

In the future many people simply will not read.   For many the future is “now.”

What?  How radical!  How can I make such a statement?

Well, because I observe it, and quite frankly because I am part of it.  Now let’s calibrate:  There’s nothing like reading a good novel on a sandy beach during vacation; likewise, who hasn’t stayed awake far past bedtime to find out Who-Done-It when reading a James Patterson mystery. No, this article refers to all the other “stuff” senders ask us to read—printed text on paper, or in small fonts on websites, trying to gain our attention and provide us with information. Slowly, but surely, I see it disappearing.

It’s certainly generational.  Under-Thirties receive information differently than Fifty-somethings.  Under-Twenties, differently still.  Does Madison Avenue really expect today’s teens to read their slick copy as they enter the workforce with increased purchasing power?    To me, that would seem to be the equivalent of investing in a buggy-whip factory.

To the well-known Atlanta-based law firm who sends me, by snail-mail, an impressive eight-page glossy mini-magazine several times a year:  “Thanks, but I don’t read it”, and I suspect I am not alone.

I examine my own information-receiving habits:  It’s Bloomberg Television for business news in the morning (on my iPhone, by-the-way); TV for local news; CNN and Fox for national news; Bloomberg Radio driving to work; NPR for a break from the news; and on and on.  Thanks to my incoming email messages are converted from text to voice—I listen to email, I don’t read email.  Then suddenly, as I go to a website for information, my world changes– I’m asked to sit patiently in front of a screen and read, and read and read.   It’s like going back in time—I consciously, or even subconsciously, really want to receive information through audio and/or video formats.  I’m increasingly impatient and turned-off by having to read.

Yes, for many the future is now.  Many websites are replacing their tired, stale head shots and written verbiage with crisp, concise presentations using video and audio.  Recently, I learned to use my voice-to-text software by watching a very well-designed and professionally-presented four minute video on the vendor’s website.  I’m spoiled!  I may never read a user’s manual again.

Time-shifting is also increasingly important.  Like many busy persons, not only do I wish to receive information by audio and video means, but I need to receive it on my schedule…often not the sender’s schedule.

Finally is the topic of multi-tasking:  How cool is it to quickly download several audio interviews of persons and topics of interest to me, onto my iPod, and listen as I hit golf balls on the driving range, or pull weeds from the flower beds.  I do it regularly, filling my head with information I would not have otherwise received had reading been the only option.

Let’s summarize:

  • We must prepare for a time in which people won’t read
  • For many the future is now
  • Connect with me by audio or video or both—assume I won’t read your information
  • Allow me to time-shift into a time period convenient for me
  • Allow me to multi-task while I am receiving your information

That’s what will work for me in the future, and that’s what is working for me today.

I think I should make an audio or video recording of this Blog!  Yep, I probably need to do that.

Guest post written by Bernie Wolford, President of Buckingham Associates, LLC