A Scenario about What Goes On when You’re Using a Feed Reader

Here’s a scenario sure to be familiar to most of you: You’re in your feed reader, and you’re scanning your feeds to see what’s new and interesting. You find posts of all kinds, some about current news, some about technology, some about whatever is happening in the Michael Jackson ordeal. Your problem is becoming more […]

Here’s a scenario sure to be familiar to most of you:

You’re in your feed reader, and you’re scanning your feeds to see what’s new and interesting. You find posts of all kinds, some about current news, some about technology, some about whatever is happening in the Michael Jackson ordeal. Your problem is becoming more apparent (and worse) every day: which posts do I read? Which ones get my finite attention?

What’s Happening to Our Attention:

  1. There are many things competing for your attention
  2. Your attention is finite (you only have so much of it)
  3. Your attention can only be directed at one thing at a time
  4. There are increasing numbers of people writing content that is relevant to you

Possible Solutions About Where to Pay Attention:

  1. Spend more time attending to your feeds, taking away time spent on other parts of your life
  2. Spend less time on each thing that wants your attention, lessening your comprehension or reflection of that thing
  3. Become more picky about what you attend to, letting more and more semi-relevant content fall by the wayside but keeping your comprehension and reflection level about the same

Notice that each solution has drawbacks because of the finiteness of our attention. In other words, if you click on a post to go read it on a site, you’ve just decided in some small way that you’re not going to attend to other things as much as you could have.

What, Ultimately, Catches Our Attention?

  1. Catchy phrase in the title?
  2. Authority of the speaker?
  3. Quality of content?
  4. Whether you’ve heard about it elsewhere?
  5. Amount of time you have?
  6. etc…

Design accordingly…

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Published: June 14th, 2005

Hi there. So...I'm trying an experiment. I'm experimenting with product design and growth hacking strategies on a new project called What to Wear. It's a super simple service that sends you a daily email containing clothing recommendations based on the weather. My focus is to make it really useful, and it's free to sign up. Let me know what you think!