I keep hearing it over and over again: “nobody reads anymore. ” BS! Not true! People do read. In fact, I suspect that people probably read more now than ever before. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I had something like a pedometer for my eyes just so I could get a count on how many words I read each day. I’m guessing it’s got to be in the tens of thousands. And while I may read more than many, that doesn’t mean others aren’t reading a lot.
So when I hear that the reason Pinterest is popular is because nobody is reading, I take issue.
Laura Paine has a simple answer when asked why Pinterest exploded in popularity at this particular juncture in Internet history. The former reporter watched her newspaper cut positions, go from being a daily to a weekly and focus more on creating short, Q&A pieces, video and photo galleries in an effort to cling to dwindling online traffic.
“People aren’t really reading anymore,” said Paine, who now works for the public relations firm InkHouse.
A new Engauge white paper breaks down the make-up of the average Pinterest user and shows that the end result of less reading is more of a focus on content curation than creation. The timing of that trend, combined with a stunning design when Internet users are focusing more on visual than text, has allowed Pinterest to explode in popularity.
“Creation takes a lot of time where curation takes just seconds,” Paine said. “Pinterest allows us all to be thought leaders on fashion, food and travel destinations without needing to do the research ourselves.”
Or, as the white paper puts it, “People stare into a fire hose of information every day, and it’s having an impact. They’re actively seeking ways to not only filter and organize what they find, but also to less stressfully consume more content. That is the behavior Pinterest exploits.”
What I don’t disagree with is that we’re all drowning in information, and many of us prefer to curate content rather than create it. I lived on a fairly steady diet of content creation for a couple of years before I decided to revive this blog. Or, “Twitter killed the bloggy-o star,” as I like to say to myself when I know nobody is listening.
For many, visual curation is easier than text-based. It’s certainly not as much of a strain on the eyes, and it definitely pushes that little dopamine button in the brain (also mentioned in the article.) It’s more immediately stimulating. But it’s also less satisfying over all.
I personally believe that longer-form content creation isn’t dead, many people are just taking a breather from it. You can only look at pictures for so long. And if you want to know how to make the recipe for those bacon chocolate chip cookies that look so appealing when shot on a 50MM prime lens, then you have to click through to Smitten Kitchen or wherever they were pinned from and actually read the post and the recipe.
I refuse to believe that we are evolving further and further away from intelligent, coherent information. I read too many thoughtful posts, articles, and tweets to be convinced.
What about you? Do you think that in another couple years, the Internet will turn into naught but a big collection of wordless flash cards?
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.