Attention Doesn't Scale


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Presentation on how information overload is affecting association members, how associations are making it worse, and how we can do better by our members given by Elizabeth Weaver Engel November 8, 2012 at the ISAE CrossConecct Conference (closing keynote).

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  • Thank you Twitter handleFirst video – Little Bobby
  • That was then2 phones – not there, can’t get youFax was new & exciting – faster than US MailOften started the day with that thing (under 30? It’s a newspaper)Email for geeks only – few had addressesInternet requiredgovt & research university access
  • This is nowTalk about all the things apps can doArthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”Plus various types of computers, plus print media, social media, TVChris Brogan: “My Precious” & electronic leashDrowning in the 24 hour flood of informationFirst thing – last thingShow of hands – taken it to the bathroom?
  • ScalingComputers can scale – Moore’s law, they have toHumans can’t scale – 24 hours for millennia – brains don’t change
  • Swiss scientist Conrad Gessner – abundance of data is “confusing and harmful” – invention of the printing press 700 years ago French politician Guillaume-Chrétien de Malesherbes feared printed news (aka “newspapers”) because people no longer had to talk to their neighbors to find out what was happening – 18th century Telegraph, telephone, radio, TV – same thing
  • Boston Globe, "The total amount of information created on the world’s electronic devices is expected to surpass the zettabyte mark this year." Cisco said it wouldn’t happen until 2015 KilobyteMegabyteGigabyteTerabytePetabyteExabyteZettabyte
  • Personalize it – my desk - Staged photoLarger point: multiple screens on multiple devices with multiple windows running multiple apps is reality 
  • Write down all forms of communication3-5 minutes – look up when doneShow of hands 1, 3, 5, 8, 10 +
  • animationToo many platformsCall them out as they animate inPlus our website, first class mail, blast and personal emails, and the occasional phone call
  • It’s no wonder our members look like this guy, right?
  • AnimationAlvin Toffler 1970 Future ShockBombarded with data – can’t make decisions, process information or prioritize tasksMultitasking - and cute cat picture on FB!Multitasking mythComputers – parallel processingHuman switch task – work with automatic tasksHP/U London 2005 study – loses more IQ points than being stonedBig think work interrupted by Pavlovian response to email alert = 25 minutes to return to task100 emails in a work day = 1 email every 4.8 minutesNo wonder members aren’t paying attention
  • historical role of associationsTHE source of info for members & other audiences (media, fed/state leg, the public)
  • scarcity  abundanceOver 4 million active entries in Wikipedia in English (killed Britannica after almost 250 years)List free resources – experts in blogs & places like HBR & Fast Company – free ebooks – companies do white papers & research reports & infographicsDirty secret: it’s as good as or better than what we provideASAE example
  • List of communications vehicles – how many provide truly original contentNo show of hands, but be honest and write it down2 minutes or soEven 50%?Some do original content (research, peer reviewed journals) – most do general interest magazine & bombard with marketing messages
  • We’re immersed 40+ hours a week in business of associationMembers are immersed 40+ hours a week in business of their businessCompeting with family, friends, volunteer obligations, hobbies, faith communities, current events & cute cat pictures on Facebook
  • Masses of undifferentiated informationTrack demographics but don’t use themAnnual conference examples
  • Members not paying attentionInformation expanding exponentially24 hours in a dayFind as good or better elsewhereHow much attention have you earned?OverloadedTrouble making decisions, processing information, prioritizing tasksWe’re making it worseNot worth the bandwidth – heretical statements (dump magazine, FB, etc.)Need help selecting info, placing it in context, dataknowledgewise decisions
  • Traditional filtering mechanisms can’t keep up with zettabyte worldProduction & distribution costs high = someone filters for usWeb 2.0 production & distribution = effectively zero, so everything gets published – Google returns millions of results, but it doesn’t provide meaningful, authoritative answers
  • Plenty of info – some is excellent, some is crap – problem has shifted to filtering – opportunity for associations to help – how?Shift from information creation to information curation
  • When I say “curation” what do you think of? Museum curatorResearch subjectCollect artifacts – way more than she’ll useSelect the best to tell the storyInterpretation – answer “so what?”Shares & maintainsMembers need same from you – make better decisions personally and professionallyDoesn’t have to be original – museum curator’s not a painter, but people will still go see her Picasso exhibit
  • Aggregation – archivist – blog list postDistillation – museum curator - infographicsTrend-spotting – Techmeme & MashableMashups – artists – Grey AlbumChronology – historians – also infographics
  • Machines – Google – depends on quality of search you construct - can be fooledLarge groups – crowdsourcing (Jeff Howe 2008) – can become a popularity contest – without someone to own it, vulnerable to manipulationIndividuals or small groups – expert curation – can add editorial component – subject to limitations & biases of group Put them together! First computer, then crowd, then expertsASAE example
  • Pair up at tables – 5 minutes - talk with partner about how, knowing who & what, you can engage your members in curation – will alert them ½ way throughFlip to list – next slide
  • Work with members in a new way – no longer jedi/padawan – deep collaboration – all audiences – co-create what association is & offersInvest time differently – slower process (write or edit 2000 word article versus point out piece on leadership from UmairHaque in HBR w explanation of how it relates to industry or profession & how it can help the member) – but if you dump magazine staff will have timeNew skills – deeply collaborative work with large groups of member and nonmember volunteers is hard
  • My white paper references Future Work Skills 2020Key skills:Helping people determine significance of infoNew media literacyAbility to understand concepts across a wide range of disciplines & see how they relateAbility to filter info successfully Abstract to practical – Multivew & SmartBrief example
  • New model for new problemsMake decisionsSet prioritiesThink clearlyUnderstand contextMake sense of complex & ambiguous worldFind meaningValue is not in adding to pile of information that’s equal to or better than what we can provide
  • Problem lies in refining information based on interest and importance21st century value proposition we can offer – filtering, editing, meaning-making, sense-making  indispensible resource attuned to personal & professional needs & worthy of slice of non-scalable attention
  • Ability to generate & share information is only increasingAttention doesn’t scale – 24 hour daysTech evolves – people’s ability to absorb & assimilate info doesn’tTraditional business model is to source of info – no model lasts forever21st century thought leadership – make wise decisions & meeting personal & professional goalsInfo creation  info curation – new skills, new way of relating shift in expecationsIf successful, position orgs for success today & tomorrow as critical resource serving deepest needs of members Isn’t that why we get out of bed in the morning?
  • Prep for ASAE 12 panel – one panelist kept pushing us to answer “so what?”Take a few minutes & answer: what will you do differently as a result of this talk or anything else you’ve learned here at CrossConnect today? Few minutes to write something down & if you’re feeling brave, share it at your tableSecond video – student animation
  • Q&AInterested in more info? Get my white paper
  • Tell story of quote & read itThank you for attention
  • Attention Doesn't Scale

    1. 1. Attention Doesn’t ScaleISAE CrossConnect 2012 @ewenge
    2. 2. @ewenge
    3. 3. @ewenge
    4. 4. @ewenge
    5. 5. Distringit librorum multitudo -- Seneca the Elder, 1st century C.E.(translation: the abundance of books is a distraction) @ewenge
    6. 6. 250 BILLION= @ewenge
    7. 7. @ewenge
    8. 8. exercise @ewenge
    9. 9. @ewenge
    10. 10. Photo credit: Ballistic Arts Media Studios @ewenge
    11. 11. problem: information overload solution: multitasking! @ewenge
    12. 12. thought leadership = information creator @ewenge
    13. 13. Information scarcity Information abundance @ewenge
    14. 14. exercise @ewenge
    15. 15. inside voice v. outside voice @ewenge
    16. 16. how much attention have you earned? @ewenge
    17. 17. @ewenge
    18. 18. Image credit: Marina Noordegraaf @ewenge
    19. 19. content curation @ewenge
    20. 20. @ewenge
    21. 21. what type of curation? @ewenge
    22. 22. who’s doing the curation? @ewenge
    23. 23. exercise @ewenge
    24. 24. curation: what kind and who does it?archivist computersmuseum curator crowdsourcedtrend-spotter expertsartisthistorian @ewenge
    25. 25. new relationshipnew investment new skills @ewenge
    26. 26. @ewenge
    27. 27. thought leadership information creatorthought leadership information curator @ewenge
    28. 28. Information overload is a symptom of overconsumption and the inability to refine online experiences based on interest and importance. -- Brian Solis @ewenge
    29. 29. translation: attention doesn’t scale @ewenge
    30. 30. what will YOU do differently tomorrow? @ewenge
    31. 31. Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAECEO & Chief Strategist getmespark.comp 202.468.3478e ewengel@getmespark.comt @ewengelli
    32. 32. @ewenge