Did you ever wonder why you spend so much of your day wading through bullshit? Every worker must consume masses of information, but most of it is poorly written, impenetrable, and frustrating to consume. How did we get here?
I’ve actually studied this question. In fact, Chapter 2 of my book explains it in detail. Basically:
- Reading on screens all day impairs our attention. According to Chartbeat, a person reading a news article online gives it an average of only 36 seconds of attention. Forrester Research reports that the only people who read more media in print than online are those 70 years old and older. It’s a noisy, jam-packed world of text that we all navigate, and that makes it harder for us to pay attention to what we read.
- No one edits what we read. Compared to decades ago, most of what we consume is unedited. It’s first draft emails and self-created blog posts and Facebook updates. Even what passes for news these days gets a lot less editorial attention than it used to, and it shows.
- We learned to write the wrong way. Our writing teachers have failed to prepare us for today’s business world. The sterile, formulaic five-paragraph theme of high school English gives way to the college professor who gives the best grades to the longest, wordiest papers. Writing for on-screen readers needs to be brief and pointed, but nobody teaches that in school — or at work.
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