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Faster Than The Speed of Lightby Nathan S

Okay, so the title is kind of obvious, I know. But I feel like it sums up a feeling that I have about a lot of things. Today, we live in a culture where a lot of stuff gets around in what most people refer to as an “instant.” We have broadband internet capable of download speeds which make the telephone modem of the nineties look like a turtle’s pace by comparison, and this fact has ushered in an era of digital content which is not likely to disappear anytime soon. Smartphones have put us, for better or for worse, in constant contact with our different internet accounts—we are truly never more than a few seconds away from the latest news.

I can see two very important problems already arising from this high-speed, global, constant connection. The first is one of attention span: It is becoming increasingly harder to convince people that something is worth investigating for more than a moment or two. Though research is easier today, to the point of it being a pastime for some (like myself), the nature of research has shifted to encourage jumping wildly from one subject to another (I’m looking at you, wikis).

The other one is very closely tied to the first: Patience is quickly shrinking in all areas of life. As things start to become available within 3 seconds, people are becoming increasingly resistant to the idea of waiting a day for something, or worse, weeks or months. People want things now. People want things 3 seconds ago. The result is a business culture which is more and more demanding instantaneous results for different things. Use the word “online” and the demand for instant turnaround skyrockets. Take the word away, and there is still a pressure to show results within a quarter’s time.

However, the result of all of this pressure to gain an instant, explosive response is that people give up on quality content a little too easily. Sometimes, good content doesn’t become huge, and there are a wide variety of reasons that this might be the case. However, it can still be useful within your business—perhaps it will slowly gain a reputation over time. Or, perhaps it will be usable as part of something much bigger. Only time—that oh-so precious commodity of the modern age—will tell.

Even the speed of light is finite. Content can only grow so quickly, even when it is incredibly written and marketed. Sometimes you’ll have an explosion, but far more often you will be much slower than that perceived “instant” response.

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