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Juggling with reputational cues August 10, 2010

Posted by salla in Blogroll.
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It’s about time to leave holidays behind and get back to work. Though I spent a part of my summer days reading a splendid new by book by Nicholas Carr, the Shallows – How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember. To put it short, the book deals with the changes we meet in us when immersing to the new digital environment. Interestingly, not only our behavior is changing with the increasing use of online and mobile services, but also the actual physical structure of our brains.

This is basically due to the increasing amount and speed of different attention cues the internet is pushing. The whole environment is about acting¬† closer to real time and about catching our attention as often as possible: receiving new e-mails and new tweets, getting Facebook notifications, updating rss-feeds. Research shows that as our brains get used to such environment it actually becomes more difficult to concentrate on a specific task for a long period of time, such as reading a book. This phenomenon was also well described in a NY Times article in June. In his book, Carr calls this new brain the¬† juggler’s brain.

While reading (besides getting just a bit worried about my poor brains) I also began to wonder what’s in this for reputation and its management? A few simple ideas to begin with: Firstly, is good to remember that the juggling online reader is even less likely to dig in deeper when searching for information and conversations for example of a certain product. The mental images are created very quickly, which means it’s more and more important to make sure search engines show positive results on the first page.

Secondly, these new ways of reading online can also be taken advantage of, especially in web service design. This has been done for example by Amazon, who is famous of their context-aware book recommendations trying to trigger our attention and to purchase more. As another example, Google makes searching easier, reduces our efforts and directs our behavior by suggesting search phrases after the user has typed in just a few first letters. If concentrating gets demanding, why not create services that offer enough help and cues to make the experience smoother?

As resources of time and our mind become limited, it’s more and more about attention economics and about offering convenience for the juggling customer.