© 2010 Rachelle Jewel attention

May I have your attention please…

Today was a quiet day at the office.  The office dog was out, the guitar player was out and the constant drizzle and cold weather had people a bit sedated.

I might love research almost as much as design.  I thrived in graduate school.  I loved delving deep into subjects and overanalyzing them.  So naturally, being at my new job and in way over my head, I have started researching.  And today, the quietest day at the office so far, was a good day to 7. Study.

I am new to the marketing and graphic design world.  But I love it.  How can you not, its design that encompasses business acumen, color, beauty, people and the changing map of technology.  Today I was studying the map and I came across the new buzz.  What is the new buzz?  Here is what I have gathered:

We have entered a new age.  The Information Age has ended or maybe fizzled out into the Attention Age.  The age of information overload.  Part of me wonders if this is what it felt like when Guttenburg developed the printing press and books – and therefore information – was able to be distributed more rapidly.  Somehow, I think not.  It might even be the opposite effect.  Can too much information make us dumb?  How will we slog through everything?

What are the initial impacts of the Attention Age?  We have dissolved privacy in almost every way.  Students at MIT recently did a study and can predict with a respectable degree of accuracy whether men are gay. Google searches your inbox, outbox, voicemail, chats, reader, and on and on and advertises to you based on words, past purchases and preferences.

What does this mean for businesses?  Good design matters even more.  Human-centered design matters even more.  Because of the information overload, people are starting to get their information selectively.  They set up Google Reader to only show sites they are interested in.  They only follow people or companies on twitter that they care about.  They purge their friends on Facebook periodically.  So breaking through and making a mark is even more important – but increasingly harder to accomplish.  Either people have to slog through information overload to find you — or they never do because they have stopped searching.

If you think about what has made companies like Bruce Mau Design and IDEO so successful, it’s their ability to break through the noise.  They not only create a brand but a feeling.  A positive vibe.  And sometimes even a way of being.  They implement good design at every level of their clients org chart.  From process to touch, from CEO to worker bee — there is a cohesive brand that makes you feel good.

I haven’t figured out whether I will miss the Information Age.  After all it was my hero Einstein who said, “Never memorize anything you can look up…” But I am excited about the shift to a new age.  I worry that people will only get their information from like minded sources.  But I am hopeful that maybe new platforms will develop that are dedicated to intelligent and tasteful discourse of an entire community.  After all it is happening right here in Tallytown.

So onward and upward and thank you for your attention.



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