Image source: Created using Billboard at Big Huge Labs.
Observation number two is that 2008 is the year we hit Peak Attention.
Peak Attention is like Peak Oil. At Peak Oil, oil is as cheap and abundant as it’s going to get, and post-Peak everything from plastics and lubricants to air travel is more costly and harder.
In terms of attention, there is just too much making demands on every one of us. Attention is a scare resource. The effort to deal with the world around us… cognition has a limit.
To put it the other way around:
We can no longer expect people to make the effort – to pay attention – to any new product or service that we launch, just because its a good product, just because it’s useful or easy. We have to fight for the capacity of those we want to use it.
So it’s not enough to for a website, or a web app, or a web product, to just offer itself to the world. It has to be seen as a dynamic entity which provides people with an unfolding good experience over time, one which is worth that precious attention.
And even that’s not enough! Once somebody uses the website, we need them to come back! And we need them to tell their friends! After Peak Attention, everyone has more stuff shouting at them for more of the time. Every moment they spend on your website, or evangelising it to friends, has to be motivated and justified to occur.
Otherwise they’ll go away. No browsing, no idly clicking on things, no random surfing. Everything has to be motivated.
So this brings me to my third metaphor for the Web, which is based on this idea that people experience the Web over time.